Despite Alliant Energy’s decision to cancel plans for a coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown, executives with the company say they will still need to increase their generating capacity. Environmental groups fought the proposal for nearly two years, claiming the coal plant would produce too much pollution and greenhouse gases.
Marian Riggs Gelb is the executive director for the Iowa Environmental Council. "I think it’s a smart decision on (Alliant’s) part and really underscores what a lot of Iowans believe, which is we need to move towards clean and renewable energy sources," Riggs Gelb said.
The $1.5 billion facility was expected to employ up to 1,500 people. Riggs Gelb is hoping Alliant will find another way to add jobs, while providing power for homes and businesses. Environmental groups have challenged Alliant to produce more energy from wind power and burning biomass.
"The clean energy industry that’s moving into Iowa, that is what’s going to create long-term jobs for Iowa," Riggs Gelb said. Alliant Energy officials say they will take some time to discuss a "Plan B," which may include a natural gas-fired facility or more wind generation.
Riggs Gelb says she believes Alliant’s decision should spur policy makers to "get moving on energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy." Alliant officials said the decision to cancel plans for the coal-fired plant was based on a number of factors including the economy and increasing environmental, legislative and regulatory uncertainty over emissions.