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No sweat: Wind pulled its weight in steamy Midwest summer

Originally posted on 9/23/22 in Energy News

We started the summer with regional grid operator MISO warning of rolling blackouts in early May of 2022. In a new paper, we took apart those warnings and explained the real reasons for capacity shortages. In June, Iowa and much of the Upper Midwest experienced heat waves, including multiple days with temperatures in the upper 90s, but avoided outages. Fresh Energy crunched the numbers to show how renewable energy reliably helped keep the lights on and air conditioning running on those days.

Iowa is a national renewable energy leader, with 57% of our energy generated by wind. Traditionally, August is one of the lowest wind months in Iowa. In this post, we examine the question: does wind perform predictably and reliably even in these conditions? And, how could solar and storage complement this great resource to make our system even more resilient?

Iowa Energy News 

MidAmerican wants to invest $3.9B in renewable energy. Environmentalists, big power users demand to see data

Environmental groups, U.S. tech giants, large Iowa manufacturers and the state's consumer advocate are challenging what they say is MidAmerican Energy's insistence on withholding studies that would help Iowans decide whether to oppose or support the utility's $3.9 billion renewable energy proposal. 

"It is difficult, if not impossible, to assess" if the plan is a "cost-effective way to meet reliability requirements, forecasted customer need, a diversified fuel mix, and the like, or if it is simply being proposed to drive utility — or parent company — profitability," Google and Facebook's attorney wrote in a filing.

"We think these studies are pretty important and pretty fundamental to the board's" decision on whether to allow MidAmerican to invest $4 billion in renewable energy, said Josh Mandelbaum, an Environmental Law & Policy Center attorney.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022: An Iowa Perspective 

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is considered the most aggressive climate action law to date. While the IRA is a federal policy, state administrations and policies will have a significant impact on the level of benefits accruing to Iowa households, businesses, and communities.

Andy Johnson, Executive Director of the Winneshiek Energy District, shares reflections on how Iowa can align its policies to maximize the outcomes of the IRA. He argues that this can be accomplished through actions like aligning Iowa’s rate-payer-funded energy efficiency programs with the new IRA program priorities such as electrification, new policy allowing for virtual net metering and meter aggregation, and the removal of the electric fuel tax which hinders electric vehicle adoption.

IEC joins in filing motion seeking MidAmerican's withheld coal studies

Environmental advocates have filed a motion with the Iowa Utilities Board to compel MidAmerican Energy to back its claims that its coal plants are a responsible use of customers' money. The motion is seeking documents that would provide backing for the utility's repeated assertion that its six Iowa plants are economical.

"Iowans are paying more for coal generation to pollute our air, lands, and waters - that's not in question. What we don't know is how much extra we're paying," said IEC Energy Program Director Kerri Johannsen. "It is literally the job of the Iowa Utilities Board to ensure MidAmerican is being fair to customers, yet MidAm is stonewalling even the regulators about just how expensive this is." Read more on the motion


Watch Now: Iowa Electric Generation — Condition of the State 2022

IEC has published the 2022 Condition of the State report, the third edition of this annual report analyzing Iowa's electricity generation and its impacts. IEC's Energy Policy Manager, Steve Guyer, gave a detailed overview of the report and its findings in a webinar earlier this month. Watch a recording of the presentation on IEC's YouTube page.


New Resource: IEC's federal funding hub launches in October

IEC staff is putting the finishing touches on an Iowa-focused hub for federal funding available from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the newly passed Inflation Reduction Act.

The site will include fact sheets and other information about the bills, Justice40, and other critical information for Iowans. It will also include links to funding resources and application information. Stay tuned for more updates in the near future!

IEC Events

Green Gala & Art Auction

IEC's inaugural Green Gala & Art Auction, will take place on Thursday, November 10 at Mainframe Studios in Des Moines. We'll have music, energy-focused awards, and we'll auction off unique environmentally-inspired pieces created by local artists with auction funds supporting IEC’s work. Help spread the word and make plans to attend today! 

Upcoming Energy Events

9/22 - 10/2: National Drive Electric Week

9/28: Solar Power Hour, Polk County Grow Solar

9/29: Net Zero is Fake Zero, Midwest Building Decarbonization Collation

10/6: Environmental and Climate Justice 101 Training, Midwest Building Decarbonization Collation

10/11: Solar Energy in Iowa: Policies and Practices at the Municipal, County, and State Levels, UI College of Law

10/13: Get Charged Up! EV EventClayton County Energy District

10/13: Building Decarbonization 101, Midwest Building Decarbonization Collation

10/13 - 10/14: Iowa Ideas 2022 Virtual Conference, The Gazette

10/17-10/18: Growing Sustainable Communities Conference

10/27: Heat Pump and Contractors Training, Midwest Building Decarbonization Collation

10/27: Local EV Drivers Panel Discussion

10/29: Called to Climate Action, IPL

Have an upcoming event we don't have listed here? Send it to us at iecmail@iaenvironment.org

505 Fifth Ave. Suite 850 
Des Moines, Iowa 50309-2317

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