A spokesman for a group that supports the new EPA rule designed to reduce carbon emissions says it shouldn’t have that big an impact on Iowa, while a spokesman for a utility group is worried about how much the rule will eventually cost.
The assistant director of Iowa State University’s Climate Science Initiative, Chris Anderson, says our state is in a good position to implement the federal mandate.
“The Iowa utilities are well prepared to comply with this rule. We’ve seen both MidAmerican and Alliant Energy adding significant amount of wind energy — particularly MidAmerican. MidAmerican is in the process of building an additional thousand megawatts of wind energy,” Anderson says.
Anderson spoke as part of a group called Iowa Interfaith Power and Light, which is launching what it calls “a statewide canvass” to gather signatures in support of the new carbon rules. Anderson says Iowa utilities have also worked to make the best use the energy the create. “Iowa has a strong history of energy efficiency,” Anderson says. “We recently approved our plans for the next five years, and during that process, significantly more energy efficiency was identified than is currently being implemented in those plans.”
He says Iowa’s utilities have been able to build new renewable energy resources and implement energy efficiency plans while keeping rates stable. Anderson doesn’t expect the new rule to change that. “We’ll see the same types of strategies employed, and they should be able to be employed without significant rate increases like have been used in the past decade here,” Anderson says.
The president of the Iowa Association of Electrical Cooperatives, Marion Denger, agrees that Iowa’s utilities are doing a good job of building new sources of renewable energy and using efficiency plans. But Denger says a new regulations mean the companies have to pay for them. “Any type of regulation as a rule does mean increased costs and I’m concerned about my fellow members and consumers that our light bills will be going up,” Denger says.
He says they are still looking over the rules and trying to determine the impact. “Rules are interpreted differently by different people…I’ve heard the comment there’s something like three-thousand pages that have to be sorted through, and that could be for different states across the nation. It will be interesting to see when they get it all hashed out,” Denger says.
Denger says there will be costs involved in complying. “The existing plants that we have that are running today — coal plants especially — that would have to have some type of equipment that’s not been proven yet,” according the Denger. “Or we would have to have more energy efficiency programs, which is a cost to the cooperatives or the utilities.”
Some don’t believe there is man-made climate change. Denger was asked his opinion on the issue. “Well, climate changes happens all the time. Whether humans are a part of that, that’s anybody’s opinion. But being conservative and using power efficiently — we’ve always done that we’ve always stood for that. Most people are always wanting to be conservative with our natural resources,” Denger says.
The EPA will now take public comment and release the final draft of the rule in June of 2015. States would then have another year to develop compliance plans.