A study finds Iowa consumers would eventually see drastic reductions in their utility bills under a federal plan to reduce carbon emissions. Some electric companies claim the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to cut carbon pollution would result in much higher costs that would be passed along to consumers.
Liz Stanton, the principal economist at Synapse Energy Economics, says that’s not necessarily the case. “While some power companies are having the reaction that you just described,” Stanton says, “others are looking at this as an opportunity and a great chance to invest in new technologies that will be what those companies are relying on in the future and at a lower cost so they can charge lower rates to customers.”
A recent report based on data from the U.S. Department of Energy ranks Iowa as the top wind power state in country in 2014, generating 28 percent of its electricity from the wind. Nationally, that figure is under 5 percent. Stanton sees wind energy continuing to progress.
“Wind technologies are developing over time and we’re seeing taller turbines, longer blades, that are able to generate more electricity from a single turbine,” Stanton says. “There are developments in technology and we take them into account in our modeling and expect that new turbines that are built in the future will actually be more powerful.” The researchers compared projections of electric rates 15 years from now if no changes are made versus projections under the E.P.A.’s so-called clean energy proposal.
“The difference between those two possible futures for Iowa consumers is about $83 on their monthly bills,” Stanton says. “In that clean energy scenario, Iowa households would pay $83 less each month in about 2030.” Stanton says with investments in energy efficiency, the plan would not only achieve the goal of a 30-percent reduction in carbon emissions, but exceed that. While the EPA plan isn’t expected to be finalized until later this summer, Iowa is already working on energy efficiency and renewable systems. Iowa ranks 14th best in the nation by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.