Motion seeks MidAmerican's withheld coal studies

Environmental groups seek backing for utility’s claims Iowa coal plants are economical

DES MOINES, Iowa, Sept. 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Environmental advocates have filed a motion with the Iowa Utilities Board to compel MidAmerican Energy to back its claims that its coal plants are a responsible use of customers’ money.

The motion filed by the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Iowa Environmental Council and Sierra Club is seeking documents, including the utility’s Zero Emissions study and its own Coal Plant Economics Assessment, that would provide backing for the utility’s repeated assertion that its six Iowa plants are economical.

“Iowans are paying more for coal generation to pollute our air, lands, and waters – that’s not in question. What we don’t know is how much extra we’re paying,” said IEC Energy Program Director Kerri Johannsen. “It is literally the job of the Iowa Utilities Board to ensure MidAmerican is being fair to customers, yet MidAm is stonewalling even the regulators about just how expensive this is.”

The environmental groups have provided studies showing that MidAmerican’s coal plants are uneconomic and pointed to the tens of billions of dollars of potential investment made available by the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, making coal alternatives all the cheaper. MidAmerican continues to withhold fundamental information from the IUB and intervening parties, hindering the utility board’s ability to find the best plan for the health and wealth of Iowa.

“The Iowa Utilities Board’s job is to ensure that utilities are responsible with Iowans’ money and health. That’s the tradeoff for giving them these lucrative, powerful monopolies,” said Environmental Law & Policy Center Senior Attorney Josh Mandelbaum. “If MidAmerican can simply choose not to show the board certain studies, it can remove better options from consideration, hamstringing the board in its duties.”

By refusing transparency, MidAmerican is essentially attempting to eliminate regulatory oversight through the hiding of data. As a monopoly public utility, regulation and oversight only work if the Board and stakeholders have the information needed for accountability. A lack of accountability is potentially costing Iowan customers millions.

MidAmerican Energy’s deadline to respond to the motion is this week. 

“The decisions made today will affect Iowans for decades to come. Residents and businesses deserve a full airing of the risks and benefits of MidAm’s planning,” said Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign Representative Katie Rock

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SOURCE Iowa Environmental Council

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