Tag Archives: clean power plan

Home-grown solar reaps opportunities for Iowa

September sunshine provided the perfect backdrop last week for a solar energy tour attended by Congressman David Young and staff for Senator Charles Grassley.

Co-sponsored by the Iowa Environmental Council, the Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Iowa Solar Trade Association, the tour highlighted innovative businesses in Polk County that are taking advantage of Iowa’s solar energy potential.

The Iowa State Capitol overlooks solar panels on PV panels on the roof of the Market One and its adjacent parking lot canopy. The Market One Building  was designed by Modus Engineering, which has developed Iowa’s first commercial office building with a net-zero design.

The Iowa State Capitol overlooks solar panels on PV panels on the roof of the Market One and its adjacent parking lot canopy, one of the stops on the solar tour. The Market One Building was designed by Modus Engineering, which has developed Iowa’s first commercial office building with a net-zero design.

Stops along the solar tour included:

  • Van Meter, Inc: This wholesale distributor of “automation, electrical, datatcomm, lighting, power transmission and clean energy products and services” (including solar panels and products) also cuts its own energy costs with a 3.5 kW solar installation at its Urbandale facility.
  • Hy-Vee (Urbandale Store): Iowa’s largest private employer is quickly growing its alternative energy installations, with electric vehicle charging stations at 30 of its stores, wind and solar powered light installations at 5 stores, and solar installations at 2 stores, including its Urbandale location.
  • The World Food Prize: The organization’s headquarters prove that modern solar technology can fit seamlessly with historic architecture. Rooftop solar panels installed on the LEED platinum facility save the organization nearly $3,300 each year.
  • Market One Building designed by Modus Engineering: By utilizing PV panels on the roof of the Market One and its adjacent parking lot canopy, MODUS Engineering has developed Iowa’s first commercial office building with a net-zero design. The building produces more power than it consumes, allowing excess power to be used by the utility company and customers on the local grid.

By utilizing home-grown solar energy, these Iowa businesses are keeping valuable jobs and dollars in our state: The solar industry supply chain provides jobs to 900 Iowans and supports nearly 50 Iowa businesses.

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Report finds Clean Power Plan will boost Iowa economy, create jobs

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Today, the Iowa Wind Energy Association released The Economic Impact of Iowa’s Wind Potential to Meet Carbon Reduction Goals, a report showing an increase in the demand for wind energy – spurred by the Clean Power Plan – will translate to expanded job creation and economic development in Iowa.

Depending on the amount of wind installed in Iowa over the next 15 years, Iowa could create an average of 483 to 6,424 wind-related jobs each year, and as many as 10,992 jobs during the peak year of wind turbine installment.

The report, authored by Dave Swenson, an associate scientist in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University, lays out an economic impact analysis of four wind energy scenarios for using wind energy to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, released earlier this week. By establishing state-specific carbon pollution reduction goals based on each state’s energy portfolio, the Clean Power Plan will cut 32% of carbon pollution from U.S. power plants by 2030 (from 2005 levels).

“The Clean Power Plan presents a huge economic opportunity for Iowa,” said Climate and Energy Policy Specialist Cindy Lane. “As a national wind energy generation and manufacturing leader, we have the resources and infrastructure to meet our own goal, and help other states meet their goals. This report provides a clear picture of how the Clean Power Plan can benefit Iowa by creating jobs and adding value to our economy.”

The final Clean Power Plan calls for Iowa to reduce its carbon pollution rate to 1,283 lbs/MWh by 2030, a slight increase from the originally proposed 1,301 lbs/MWh. At the end of 2014, wind energy accounted for 28.5 % of Iowa’s electrical generation – the highest of any state.

“Iowa’s early actions to transition to cleaner energy will be further encouraged under the final Clean Power Plan,” Lane noted. “In short, Iowa can get a jumpstart on meeting its carbon reduction goal by submitting a timely, state plan and investing early in 1) renewable energy projects and 2) energy efficiency projects implemented in low income communities. The sooner that Iowa submits a final state plan detailing its Clean Power Plan implantation strategy, the sooner Iowa can get credit for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that are constructed/implemented after that date. These early credits can be banked, and counted toward carbon pollution reduction requirements during 2022-2029.”

Scenarios in the report evaluate wind installation levels starting at 2,320 MW and ending at 15,000 MW – all well within Iowa’s wind capacity; recent studies show 20,000 MW could be developed by 2030. Labor income totals could reach up to $114 million in the first year, and have the potential to grow to $594 million by 2030. Value added to the economy could hit $2.1 billion by 2030, bringing the final total output to as much as $3.56 billion in the final year.

“The Clean Power Plan will improve our economy, protect and support our communities, safeguard our working lands and strengthen our energy independence – Iowa really is in an ideal position,” Lane said.

The full report is available for download on the IWEA website.

Clean Power Plan: An Opportunity for Iowa

Unparalleled power

President Barack Obama greets attendees, including Iowa Environmental Council Energy Program Director Nathaniel Baer (pictured), in the Blue Room before he delivers remarks on the Clean Power Plan in the East Room of the White House, Aug. 3, 2015.

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the finalization of the Clean Power Plan, a landmark standard that sets the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

By establishing state-specific carbon pollution reduction goals based on each state’s energy portfolio, the Clean Power Plan will cut 32% of carbon pollution from U.S. power plants by 2030 (from 2005 levels), and improve Iowa’s economy, protect our communities, safeguard our working lands and strengthen our energy independence.

The final Clean Power Plan calls for Iowa to reduce its carbon pollution rate to 1,283 lbs/MWh by 2030, a slight increase from the originally proposed 1,301 lbs/MWh. Both goals are based on reductions from 2012 carbon pollution levels. However, the baseline or starting point for those calculations has changed. Therefore, while the final Clean Power Plan calls for Iowa to cut carbon pollution from its power plants by 41%, this cannot be directly compared to the originally proposed 16% reduction.

As a national wind energy leader, Iowa is well-equipped to meet this modest goal, and could have achieved a significantly stronger goal. The final Clean Power Plan presents significant opportunities for Iowa’s wind sector to help reduce emissions in other states.

“We applaud the EPA and Administrator McCarthy’s leadership in finalizing the Clean Power Plan,” said Energy Program Director Nathaniel Baer, who was among leading clean energy advocates invited to join President Obama at the White House for a media event announcing the finalization of the plan. “However, Iowa’s carbon reduction goal remains one of the lowest in the country. While achievable, this modest reduction goal doesn’t begin to realize Iowa’s full clean energy potential.”

As a national leader in wind energy generation and manufacturing, Iowa is already on track to achieve and surpass its carbon reduction. Wind energy accounts for 28.5 % of Iowa’s electrical generation – the highest of any state. Recent studies show that Iowa’s wind energy potential is over 570,000 MW and 20,000 MW of this could be developed by 2030.

“Though the Council would have liked to see a stronger goal, we look forward to working with the state’s leaders over the next year to shape a strong implementation plan that maximizes Iowa’s potential for renewable energy growth and energy efficiency savings,” said Climate and Energy Policy Specialist Cindy Lane.

By increasing the regional and national demand for clean energy, the Clean Power Plan will expand opportunities for wind as well as solar energy development, strengthening Iowa’s economy and job market.

In addition to improving Iowa’s economy, the Clean Power Plan benefits the state’s communities, cultural heritage and environment. By cutting carbon pollution and encouraging a transition to clean energy, the Clean Power Plan will make Iowa a safer, healthier and more attractive place to live and work.

Read the final Clean Power Plan

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.

Recent reports agree: Clean Power Plan would protect public health

Several recently-released, independently-conducted reports concur that reducing carbon pollution would improve public health.

Today, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released its annual “Sneezing and Wheezing” report detailing the negative respiratory health impacts of increased ozone and pollen concentrations that are expected to worsen if carbon pollution levels continue to rise.

According to the report, carbon pollution has been linked to increased ragweed pollen levels and contributes to conditions which increase ground-level ozone.  Both ozone and ragweed pollen exacerbate allergies and asthma, serious and costly health issues that affect approximately 50 million and 26 million Americans. Ragweed pollen allergies alone are estimated to contribute to more than 3.8 million missed work and school days per year.

To protect public health, the report recommends adopting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan. Expected to be finalized this summer, the Clean Power Plan would establish the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from U.S. power plants (the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution).

Recommendations to adopt a strong Clean Power Plan were also echoed by the American Lung Association (ALA) last month in its annual “State of the Air” report.  The ALA report details progress in improving our nation’s air quality by examining ozone and particle pollution levels across the U.S.  Reducing carbon pollution under the Clean Power Plan would also simultaneously reduce levels of these other harmful pollutants.

The result would be a significant public health benefit, according to researchers at Harvard, Boston and Syracuse Universities.  In a peer-reviewed paper released last week, the researchers found that additional reductions in sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter resulting from carbon standards like the Clean Power Plan would help prevent 3,500 premature deaths; 1,000 hospitalizations; and 220 heart attacks per year in the U.S. and avoid 47 premature deaths in Iowa alone.

EPA has estimated that American families will see up to $7 in health benefits for every dollar invested in the Clean Power Plan and, in total, the agency estimates the plan will result in $55 to $93 billion in health and climate benefits.

>> Sneezing and Wheezing Report, NRDC
>> State of the Air, American Lung Association