Analysis shows Iowa well-prepared for Clean Power Plan

In anticipation of the expected August release of the final Clean Power Plan, which will establish the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the Council has been evaluating various options for Iowa to reduce carbon pollution to comply with the final standard.

Iowa’s leadership in wind energy has already cut carbon pollution and positioned the state to comply with its proposed 16% reduction goal. However, other actions resulting in carbon pollution reductions (including the retirement of older coal plants, the conversion of coal plants to natural gas, and the maintenance of modest energy efficiency programs) need to be evaluated, as well as Iowa’s potential to comply with a stronger reduction goal.

To conduct this analysis, Council staff used a publicly available modeling tool from Synapse Energy Economics to quantify the emissions reductions from five key actions that are already reducing carbon emissions in Iowa or will reduce emissions before 2020:

  • Construction of 1,964 MW of wind per three MidAmerican wind projects (Wind VIII, IX and X) and one Alliant wind project;
  • Retirement of 940 MW of old, inefficient coal plants (including CIPCO Fair Station, MidAmerican Neal North 1 & 2 and Walter Scott 1 & 2, Alliant Lansing 3, Dubuque 3 & 4, and Sutherland 1 & 3, and Pella);
  • Conversion of 497 MW of old coal plants to natural gas (including Ames 7 & 8, Alliant Kapp, MidAmerican Riverside, and Corn Belt Earl Wisdom);
  • Continuation of existing utility efficiency programs saving a modest 1% of retail sales annually;
  • Construction of a more efficient natural gas combined cycle power plant by Alliant Energy in Marshalltown
Impact of existing and planned changes on Iowa’s rate of carbon emissions Synapse CP3T v. 1.4 results, prepared by the Iowa Environmental Council, July 2015

Impact of existing and planned changes on Iowa’s rate of carbon emissions
Synapse CP3T v. 1.4 results, prepared by the Iowa Environmental Council, July 2015

Iowa’s baseline emissions rate in 2012 was 1,552 lbs/MWh. The EPA’s proposed 16% reduction is 1,301 lbs/MWh. The five actions analyzed above bring Iowa’s emissions to 1,105 lbs/MWh, well below the proposed EPA goal. This means that Iowa will likely be in compliance with the 2030 goal as early as 2020.

If the final goal is stronger, modest additional actions will allow Iowa to comply. To evaluate Iowa’s compliance potential using energy efficiency and wind energy alone, the Council used a publicly available modeling tool from MJ Bradley & Associates.

If Iowa’s reduction goal is approximately 29% rather than 16%, Iowa would need to reduce its emissions rate to 1,103 lbs/MWh by 2030. Iowa could reach this goal by adding 22 MW of wind per year and maintaining a 1% annual energy efficiency savings from 2020-2029. If Iowa’s goal is even stronger– a 42% reduction – Iowa would need to reduce its emissions rate to 906 lbs/MWh by 2030. Iowa could comply by adding 170 MW of wind per year and maintaining a 1% annual energy efficiency saving from 2020-2029. These actions are readily achievable: From 2008 through 2015, Iowa averaged over 635 MW in wind capacity additions annually and has seen over 1,000 MW of wind constructed in a single year.

Per these evaluations, as well as those of several other clean energy experts, Iowa is well-equipped to meet its proposed 16% carbon reduction goal or a significantly stronger goal. Regardless of the final goal, we look forward to working with the state’s leaders to shape a strong implementation plan that maximizes Iowa’s potential for renewable energy growth and energy efficiency savings.

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