Iowa’s largest utility company has fired up a coal plant in Council Bluffs that’s the first of its kind in the nation. MidAmerican Energy company spokesperson Allan Urlis says the Walter Scott Energy Center is the first in the U.S. to employ "supercritical" technology.

The plant is able to use less coal, yet still produce the same amount of energy compared to the last generation of coal fueled power plants from the 1980s. The result is a 15 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Urlis says it’s the latest MidAmerican project to address customer’s concerns about the environment.

The company is in the midst of adding 2,000 megawatts of electric generation capacity in a five year period. Urlis says 50 percent of that production is being fueled by wind, 25 percent by natural gas, and 25 percent from coal.

"So we feel very good about being able to meet our customer’s electricity needs," Urliss says, "while also being very sensitive to the environment and the impact that electric generation does have on the environment. In the last 10 years, Urlis says the average residential customer has increased their annual electricity consumption by 11 percent.

Audio: Radio Iowa’s Pat Curtis reports. :48 MP3