The Iowa Utilities Board Wednesday approved the permit for a new Interstate Power and Light Company coal-fired electric plant in Marshalltown — a ruling that could have an impact on future energy projects. The two-to-one vote by the board came with the provisions that I-P-L’s parent company, Alliant Energy, must increase its use of renewable fuels each year for 15 years after the plant is running in 2013.
I-P-L president Tom Aller was asked if that requirement might lead companies that supply wind turbines to up their prices. Aller says from a "macro" scale if the country stops building coal plants, the people who have renewable energy products, wind or others, the cost would go up. He says customers would have to pay those increased costs.
Aller says increasing costs for renewables is something that is not a concern yet. He says it’s a concern on a larger scale, but Iowa doesn’t have a renewable energy standard like some other states. Aller says the requirement on the new plant could be viewed as agreeing to some sort of renewable energy standard by 2028, but he says by that time, renewable energy at those levels could already be a part of the company’s strategic plan.
Utilities Board chair, John Norris, says he wants penalties to be levied against the company if they don’t achieve the increases in renewable energy. Aller says nothing is set in stone yet, and the process of setting the rates for the new plant is the next step that will include more details.
Aller says any penalties and requirements will come in the next phase as they discuss the appropriate return on the plant’s investment. The Iowa Utilities Board voted to approve the new plant with the condition that Alliant uses five-percent biomass fuel within two years of when the new plant is expected to begin making electricity. The company would have to increase its use of biomass to 10-percent in five years. The company would also have to increase its use of wind energy and look at capturing the carbon dioxide produced by its electric plants.