Report: EPA proposal could lead to lower utility bills for Iowans


(Brendan Wood/Flickr)
(Brendan Wood/Flickr)

Nick Fetty | July 31, 2015

Two recent studies find that the Environmental Protection Agency’s effort to reduce carbon emissions could lead to lower electricity bills for Iowa consumers.

Synapse Energy Economics conducted the first study which examined the projected economic impact of EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The study concluded that participation in energy efficient programs could save the average U.S. household $35 per month on electricity bills by 2030, with even greater savings for Iowa consumers.

“Iowa households taking advantage of energy-efficiency programs under the proposed Clean Power Plan would save $83 a month on average and their bills would be $41 a month in 2030,” principal economist Elizabeth Stanton told the Public News Service.

The other report, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, used modeling to predict that EPA’s plan would lead to lower electricity bills and could also lead to job creation and other economic benefits.

However despite the findings in the two studies, the Spencer Daily Reporter reports that Spencer (Iowa) Municipal Utilities general manager Steve Pick doesn’t expect the plan to have much of an impact on electricity bills for his customers. Pick cited that the two plants which serve Spencer are already up to efficiency standards so the plan wouldn’t change much. Pick added that electricity prices in Spencer are already the lowest in the state and again wouldn’t be affected by EPA’s plan.

The Clean Power Plan is expected to be finalized later this summer.

Report: Iowa wind power on track to meet federal energy goals


Map of utility-scale wind generation in and around Iowa. (Iowa Wind Energy Association)
Map of utility-scale wind generation in and around Iowa. (Iowa Wind Energy Association)

Nick Fetty | May 5, 2015

Iowa’s wind energy sector has the state on track to meet and likely exceed federal energy goals over the next fifteen years, according to a report released Monday by the Iowa Wind Energy Association.

Last June, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its Clean Power Plan which calls for a nationwide reduction in carbon pollution from power plants. Monday’s report suggest that once Iowa reaches its goal it will be able to assist other states in reducing carbon emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

“Given the local economic and the wider environmental impacts, the continued expansion of wind power on a large scale in Iowa appears to be extremely beneficial, to the state, the region, and the planet,” the authors concluded in the report. 

Iowa has invested roughly $10 billion in wind energy since 2003 and currently leads the nation in percentage of electricity generated from wind energy at 28.5 percent. However there is still room for improvement as 59 percent of Iowa’s electricity in 2013 came from coal power.

This report comes on the heels of an announcement last week by MidAmerican Energy for a $900 million, 552 MW expansion of wind energy in the Hawkeye State. Officials have not a released a location for the proposed expansion but the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2016. Additionally, Alliant Energy announced plans last month for a 200 MW wind energy project in Iowa.

$48 million donation aims to assist states with reducing emissions


Emissions billow from the smokestacks of a facility in Heilbronn, Germany (dmytrok/Flickr)
Emissions billow from the smokestacks of a facility in Heilbronn, Germany (dmytrok/Flickr)

Nick Fetty | January 23, 2015

Two charitable groups have donated $48 million so that in can be used in helping states reduce carbon emissions over the next three years.

The plans were announced earlier this week with half the money coming from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the other half from the Heising-Simons family, a California couple devoted to reducing the impact of climate change. This project will provide technical assistance, economic forecasting, and legal analysis to a dozen or so states pursuing clean-energy initiatives. The money will not go directly to the states – which are each responsible for developing their own emissions reduction plans – and will instead go to groups like Environmental Defense Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council which will advise states on strategies for cutting emissions.

“The science on climate change makes it abundantly clear that carbon pollution poses a deep threat to society, to agriculture, and to nature—and that early action is required to avoid these threats,” Mark Heising said in a press release. “New technologies ensure that the solutions to climate change can be cost-effective.  This initiative is designed to accelerate those solutions.”

The money is expected to be used to help create renewable energy systems which cause less pollution in the land, air, and water and therefore can improve public health. This donation coincides with President Obama’s Clean Power Plan which he announced in June of 2014 and which allows each state to set its own standards for reducing emissions from fossil fuels

Poll finds widespread support for alternative energy among Midwest voters


A solar panel array (Maryland GovPics/Flickr)
A solar panel array (Maryland GovPics/Flickr)

Voters spoke out in broad support of energy efficiency and alternative energy sources during a recent round of polls across the Midwest.

The bipartisan poll was conducted earlier this summer to gauge attitudes toward various energy issues, and included interviews with around 2,500 voters from Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa. Among them, 95% supported increasing energy efficiency, while strong majorities supported increasing the uses of solar (91%) and wind energy (87%) in their states. Only 55% supported increasing coal use, while biomass had the lowest support (50%). Biomass also had the highest number of “Don’t Know/Not Applicable” answers, at 37%, implying some confusion around the energy source.

Attitudes toward solar, wind and natural gas remained about the same from 2010 to 2014, while support for nuclear energy dropped. Support for coal held at 55% over the last four years. However, over 80% of voters wanted to move toward cleaner sources of energy rather than increase coal use. They also viewed renewable energy production as a bigger contributor to their economy than coal mining.

Voters also voiced their opinion on potential policy issues. With the understanding that switching to alternative energy sources may cost more in the short term, 81% were willing to pay an additional $1 per month for energy, and 69% were willing to pay $4 more. They also supported energy measures like the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, announced earlier this year.

For the complete report, click here.

 

On the Radio: Energy efficiency under the Clean Power Plan


Compact fluorescent lamps are known for using energy more efficiently than traditional bulbs. (Adam/Flickr)
Compact fluorescent lamps are known for using energy more efficiently than traditional bulbs. (Adam/Flickr)

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at how energy efficiency and renewable energy will reduce power plant emissions under the Clean Power Plan. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Energy efficiency under the Clean Power Plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan aims to significantly reduce power plant emissions through energy efficiency and other renewable energy measures.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

States will be given a considerable amount of flexibility for meeting the goals of the newly proposed Clean Power Plan. The EPA expects electricity bills for Americans to be reduced by roughly 8 percent in 2030 through improved energy efficiency for homes and businesses. Once implemented, the plan will set a global standard for responsible energy use and sustainability.

Coal, oil, and natural gas will continue to have a role in the American energy sector; however the Clean Power Plan aims to reduce the nation’s dependency on non-renewable and environmentally-damaging energy sources.

For more information about the Clear Power Plan, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.

On the Radio: Carbon emission reductions under the Clean Power Plan


Chris/Flickr
Chris/Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan will reduce carbon emissions in Iowa and across the country. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Clean Power Plan carbon reductions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan aims to significantly reduce power plant carbon emissions by 2030.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Power plants are currently the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., accounting for roughly one-third of heat-trapping gas emissions. There are about 1000 fossil fuel-powered plants in the U.S. and 37 plants in Iowa that are impacted by the plan.

The plan proposes to cut carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States.

This includes a 25 percent reduction in pollutants that contribute to soot as well as smog which are known to cause asthma, heart disease, and other health problems.

 Iowa has until June 30, 2016 to draft and submit a plan for reducing power plant emissions in the state.

For more information about the Clear Power Plan, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org

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From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.

On the Radio: Clean Power Plan health benefits


Kim Seng/Flickr
Kim Seng/Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at the potential health benefits of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Clean Power Plan health benefits

Thousands of lives and billions of dollars could be saved under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recently proposed Clean Power Plan.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

According to EPA scientists, as many as 6,000 premature deaths and 3,000 heart attacks are projected to be avoided in 2030 as air quality improves under the Clean Power Plan. Current standards limit the amount of certain pollutants such as arsenic and mercury. However there is no limit on carbon. Carbon emissions contribute to air pollution which presents health risks, particularly for children, elderly, and low-income individuals.

The plan is also projected to reduce as many as 150,000 asthma attacks in children. Moreover, the plan expects a reduction of nearly half a million missed school or work days as well as about 3,000 fewer hospital admissions.

Economically, the plan has public health and climate benefits estimated at up to $93 million per year in 2030.

For more information about the Clear Power Plan, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org

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From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.

Supreme Court: EPA warranted in most greenhouse gas regulations


Nick Fetty | June 23, 2014
The United States Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. Photo by Mike Renlund; Flickr
The United States Supreme Court building in Washington D.C.
Photo by Mike Renlund; Flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency is warranted in enforcing most, but not all, of its regulations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This decision does not pertain to the EPA’s recently proposed Clean Power Plan and instead focuses on aspects of the Clean Air Act.  Justice Scalia – who wrote the decision – noted that the EPA “is getting almost everything it wanted in this case.”

Read more about the ruling in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and hundreds of other sources.