Beyond Coal is a national campaign calling for the retirement of the U.S. coal fleet by 2030. Since 2010, a coal plant has retired every 17 days in the United States. Beyond Coal has played a role in retiring over 350 coal plants, preventing over 150 coal plants from being built, and closing 7 coal export terminals in the U.S.
In Iowa, over 2000 MW of coal power has retired since 2010, peaking when more than 1200 MW retired over 2015 and 2016.
MidAmerican runs 5 coal plants in Iowa
While it has led the development of wind energy, MidAmerican remains the largest climate polluter in Iowa with no plans to retire its five coal plants before 2049. Retiring MidAmerican’s coal by 2030 could save Iowans $1.2 billion. Iowans deserve better.
While publicly touting a 100% renewable energy vision, the monopoly utility is operating one of the largest coal fleets in the country. The power generated from these coal plants is not needed to meet Iowa customers’ energy needs, and continues to run at the expense of Iowans. MidAmerican Energy has publicly stated it is planning to burn coal until 2049.
Not only is the coal being burned in Iowa hurting the health and well-being of Iowans, it’s hurting our pocketbooks.
Where are MidAmerican's 5 coal plants?
- George Neal Station North, Sergeant Bluff, Iowa
- George Neal Station South, Salix, Iowa
- Louisa Generating Station, Muscatine, Iowa
- Ottumwa Generating Station, Ottumwa, Iowa
- Walter Scott Jr. Energy Center, Council Bluffs, Iowa
Photo of MidAmerican coal plant George Neal North. Photo by Emma Colman.
Retiring MidAmerican's Coal by 2030 Could Save Iowans $1.2 Billion
Analysis filed in December 2021 with the Iowa Utilities Board shows that MidAmerican Energy could save Iowans nearly $1.2 billion by retiring all of its coal plants by 2030. The analysis, independently conducted by Synapse Energy on behalf of the Sierra Club, Iowa Environmental Council (IEC), and Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC), concluded that replacing the coal plants with renewable resources, such as wind, solar, and battery storage, was the most cost-effective option while ensuring reliable service to customers. Under a scenario with high gas prices and a carbon tax, the savings grow to $5 billion.
The model suggested retiring the Walter Scott Energy Center Unit 3 (Council Bluffs) in 2024, Ottumwa Generating Station in 2024, the George Neal units (near Sioux City) in 2025, Louisa Generating Station in 2026, and Walter Scott Unit 4 in 2030. Power from these coal plants would be replaced with approximately 2,000 MW of solar generation and 740 MW of battery storage, and 2,000 MW of supplemental wind power.
Photo of Louisa Generating Station, by Emma Colman
Alliant Energy co-owns 4 coal plants in Iowa
Alliant Energy still owns and operates coal power plants in Iowa and Wisconsin. It has publicly stated a goal of becoming coal-free in Iowa by 2040, but that isn’t fast enough to address the worst impacts of the climate crisis. In 2020, Alliant announced plans to retire part of its coal fleet in both states, including the 325 MW Lansing plant in Allamakee county and over 1400 MW of coal power capacity in Wisconsin, to be replaced mainly with solar and battery storage. However, retirement plans for some of these plants are currently delayed.
Once the Lansing retirement completes, the remainder of Alliant’s Iowa coal fleet will be with partial ownership of power plants. Read more about how we believe Alliant Energy could meet more ambitious climate goals.
- Flyer Blowing Smoke
- Synapse Energy analysis, showing savings by shuttering the coal plants
- Summary fact sheet about the Synapse report
- The Dirty Truth report, a scorecard of utility climate plans, MidAm scored a 30/100, or a D, because despite investments in clean energy, the utility has kept five massive coal plants online.
Photo of George Neal North coal plant. Photo by Emma Colman.
Join us in the Coal Fight
If you would like to join our work in fighting coal plants in Iowa, contact us! Or see what we are doing today by visiting our linktree and signing up.
Emma Colman, Iowa Beyond Coal Organizing Representative
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