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Campaign calls on MidAmerican Energy to close coal plants by 2030


A new campaign launched by a coalition of environmental organizations continues their efforts to pressure MidAmerican Energy Co. to create a plan to close its coal-burning plants by 2030.

The Clean Up MidAm campaign is a collaboration of the Iowa Environmental Council, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, the Sierra Club, Clean Energy Districts of Iowa, and Iowa Interfaith Power and Light, among others. The groups have been critical of MidAmerican Energy, saying that despite its advertised 100% renewable energy vision, it continues operate five coal plants in Iowa.

In a news release, the groups cite a recent analysis filed with the Iowa Utilities Board that says MidAmerican Energy could save Iowans nearly $1.2 billion over 20 years by retiring its coal plants by 2030 and replacing them with renewable resources. The analysis was filed by the Iowa Environmental Council, which also released a report last year that said the use of coal causes $1.3 billion to $4.6 billion in harm to Iowan’s health, Iowa’s ag economy and climate stability.

“MidAmerican cannot be a leader of the clean energy transition without retiring its coal plants,” said Josh Mandelbaum, senior attorney for the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

He said if MidAmerican doesn’t provide a “transparent plan” to close its coal plants, the state’s utilities board should intervene.

In response to the campaign, MidAmerican Energy released a statement that said the company has a goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which includes closing its coal plants.

The company said until then it will continue to use the plants to balance its growing fleet of renewable energy generation to fill gaps in production of wind and solar energy to provide reliable and affordable service for its customers. The company said that it expects to further reduce its annual carbon emissions with the addition of its proposed Wind Prime project, and that 88% of energy used by its customers last year came from renewable resources.

MidAmerican said through its GreenAdvantage program it calculates the renewable energy delivered to its customers, making it transparent and well documented. It also filed an annual report with the Iowa Utilities Board to verify the energy delivered to customers from renewable sources.

MidAmerican is also exploring carbon capture technology, energy storage and advanced nuclear generation to reach its net-zero greenhouse gas goals, according to the statement.

“The newest campaign issued against MidAmerican Energy ignores our track record – something we proudly stand behind and the very path that will allow us to achieve a net-zero future,” the statement read.

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