An environmental group says new analysis of government data shows Iowa has some of the nation’s oldest coal-fired power plants that are responsible for high levels of pollution. Eric Nost, with Environment Iowa, says the largest coal plant – the Walter Scott Jr. Energy Center in Council Bluffs – released nearly 10-million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2007.
A new addition to the facility does include technology to reduce emissions. “But, the majority of the power coming from that plant is from facilities that are at least 30 years old and are very inefficient,” Nost said. MidAmerican Energy owns the Council Bluffs facility and two other coal-fired plants near Sioux City that are among the top emitters of greenhouse gases in the state.
The company has said it’s working to reduce emissions and plans to produce 11% of its power from wind turbines by the end of the year. Nost is hoping the U.S. Senate will pass an energy bill that includes federal limits on global warming pollution. He says the Environmental Protection Agency is also considering a rule to require coal plants and other large industries to use available technology to cut their carbon emissions.
Opponents say the changes would lead to a big increase in consumers’ utility bills. The E-P-A’s analysis of the bill passed in the House claims the average consumer would pay $100 more per year. But, Nost says that report does not include potential savings from energy efficiencies.
“Our own analysis shows that households can be saving about 200-dollars a year from energy efficiency if we include some strong energy efficiency components in this bill,” Nost said. Earlier this year, Alliant Energy canceled plans for a new coal plant in Marshalltown.