Consumer Advocate Opposes Interstate Power and Light Company Proposed Coal Plant
The Iowa Consumer Advocate has filed testimony with the Iowa Utilities Board, recommending that the IUB reject Interstate Power and Light’s application for authority to site a 630-megawatt coal-fired generating unit (SGS Unit 4) adjacent to Interstate’s existing Sutherland Generating Station in Marshalltown, Iowa. Interstate is a subsidiary of Alliant Energy of Madison, Wisconsin.
“When the risks to consumers and the public associated with building a new coal-fired power plant are properly taken into account, the advantages are clearly demonstrated of Interstate Power meeting its supply needs through lower-cost and environmentally-friendly energy efficiency and renewable energy generation resources,” said Consumer Advocate John R. Perkins.
The Office of Consumer Advocate filed the testimony with the IUB late Monday. The OCA represents gas, electric and telephone utility consumers generally and the public generally in all proceedings before the Iowa Utilities Board.
Expert testimony submitted by the Consumer Advocate interpreting current scientific analysis and consensus argues that the proposed coal plant would inject enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for 50 years or more, contributing to a worsening of the dangerous buildup of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere and to accelerated global climate change for centuries to come.
According to the testimony, emissions from the proposed plant would be equivalent to the CO2 emissions from about 740,000 additional cars – an additional 40% of current emissions today from all of the cars registered in the state in 2005.
Human-induced climate change presents a grave and increasing threat to the environment and to human societies around the world, according to the testimony. The primary source of increasing atmospheric CO2 is the combustion of fossil fuels by industrialized societies. Unless squarely addressed by effective public policy, the increasing buildup of atmospheric greenhouse gases will likely cause dramatic environmental and economic harm to societies around the world, including communities in Iowa. Policymakers within and beyond Iowa are evaluating policies to achieve electricity production by less carbon-intensive or zero-carbon means, the testimony said.
“The proposed coal plant stands in stark contrast to this goal,” Perkins said. “Undertaking construction of a coal plant in these circumstances presents an enormous risk for IPL’s customers and the environment – a risk that is unnecessary. Moreover, our recommendations would allow for the potential development of cleaner energy sources which may occur over the next decade and eliminate the need for a baseload coal plant in the future.”
Perkins said that in the course of the OCA’s detailed analysis of Interstate’s electric resource planning model, OCA’s experts determined that IPL failed to properly model the costs of CO2 regulation and other energy resource potentials. Adjusting for these errors, the OCA experts concluded, IPL can defer the need for the base load coal plant beyond the planned 2013 in-service date of SGS-Unit 4. Energy efficiency and wind generation would be a more cost-effective means of meeting Interstate’s energy needs, and with little to no adverse environmental impact, Perkins said.
“Energy efficiency and renewable energy resources actually deliver greater and more evenly distributed economic benefits to the State of Iowa than the proposed coal plant,” Perkins said. “Removing IPL’s modeling constraints that limited Interstate’s wind generation capacity to 9.1 % of its projected retail energy needs in 2022, and allowing the model to increase wind generation to 25 percent of IPL’s retail energy needs, would result in 1,657 MW of wind in 2022, or 1,039 megawatts more than IPL assumes in its base resource plan. Similar environmentally sound results will accrue from increased investment in energy efficiency.”