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Clean Power Plan Goal Attainable and Economically Beneficial for Iowa

 

Photo of wind turbines in a field - imageThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the Clean Power Plan today, which tasks the country to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants by 32% by 2030.

Not only is Iowa already on track to meet its goal, but the Clean Power Plan provides a unique opportunity to enhance Iowa’s leadership on renewable energy like wind and solar. According to estimates in the Iowa Wind Energy Association’s (IWEA) May 2015 report “Iowa’s Wind Potential for Addressing 111(d) Goals: The Potential for Tapping Iowa’s Wind Resources to Reduce C02 Emissions,” Iowa was already slated to surpass its 1,301 lbs/MWh carbon reduction goal under the proposed Clean Power Plan. Iowa can meet a slightly stronger goal of 1,283 lbs/MWh, according to the IWEA report, simply by building a modest amount of wind and taking no other actions. Iowa has added 1,000 MW or more of wind per year in recent years, and has the technical potential to build more than 570,000 MW of wind.

“In the same way Iowa would benefit from a higher renewable fuel goal in the federal RFS, our state also will benefit from a higher Clean Power Plan goal because of the added incentive to invest in renewable energy, especially Iowa’s maturing wind industry,” said Mike Prior, Executive Director of the Iowa Wind Energy Association. “Whether it’s renewable fuel or renewable energy, these goals create jobs and spur economic activity in Iowa.”

Under the Clean Power Plan, Iowa can help other states achieve their carbon reduction goals by selling wind energy generated in Iowa or products and services from Iowa wind manufacturers and wind-related businesses to build facilities within the borders of other states. The result would be a ripple effect of economic benefits to not only Iowa utility providers, but also Iowa supply chain, manufacturing and other businesses that support the wind industry across the country. The Iowa wind industry already employs almost 7,000 people in the state, and it is estimated that capital investment in wind development will total more than $10 billion by the end of 2015. 

“As a small business owner working with rural Iowa communities, I see first-hand the direct economic benefits that wind power brings to these communities; from landowner payments, job creation and an expanded tax base,” said John Boorman, Managing Director of Optimum Renewables. “These are real, tangible benefits across the state of Iowa.  In addition, small Iowa businesses like us have the opportunity to expand and grow.  You cannot overstate the importance of the Clean Power Plan to our success.  I am looking forward to the implementation of the Clean Power Plan.”

Leaders in Iowa’s solar industry also applauded the Clean Power Plan’s benefits.

“The Clean Power Plan will help to level the playing field for healthier energy options like solar, which is cost-effective and available today,” notes Tim Dwight, president of the Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association. “Iowa’s technical potential for solar energy is enormous and it provides significant economic benefits. Last year, solar energy employed 900 Iowans and supports nearly 50 Iowa businesses in the solar industry supply chain.  The Clean Power Plan will encourage more growth while keeping valuable dollars and jobs in our state.”

The Clean Power Plan also will help to protect the viability of Iowa agriculture, its rural communities and natural resources. Mark Kuhn, an Iowa farmer and Floyd County Supervisor, knows firsthand the economic benefits that renewable energy brings to farmers and rural cities and counties.

“Growing renewable wind energy under the Clean Power Plan can help provide valuable land lease payments to Iowa farmers and increase revenues for rural counties,” said Kuhn. “Renewable energy brings a steady stream of tax revenue to communities, which funds our roads and bridges.” 

Currently, Iowa landowners receive more than $16 million annually in land lease payments for wind turbines and total assessed value of property with wind turbines in Iowa is estimated to be more than $2.6 billion, according to the IWEA report. 

Growing renewable energy and energy efficiency programs under the Clean Power Plan also will bring direct benefits to consumers, and make electricity bills both smaller and more predictable. The average American household spends 2.9 % of income on energy costs, but the rate rises to 8.3 % of income for low-income households, according to a recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “Bridging the Clean Energy Divide. By 2030, the EPA estimates the Clean Power Plan is estimated to save the average American family more than $80 per year on their electricity bills. This is particularly important for low-income individuals living on a fixed budget.

The Clean Power Plan also will help protect Iowans from the costly health impacts associated with rising carbon emissions. Nationally, the EPA estimates that cleaner air from the Clean Power Plan will help prevent as many as 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children, 1,700 hospital admissions, 300,000 missed work or school days annually and avoid 1,700 heart attacks.

“As a physician, I believe that reducing carbon pollution under the Clean Power Plan is not only imperative for protecting public health, but also for protecting our climate,” said Dr. Yogesh Shah. “A less obvious, but perhaps more common, health effect of climate change is its impact on respiratory and cardiovascular health. Heat stress and exposure to air pollutants increase the risk of heart attacks and stroke, especially in aging adults. These health threats have enormous costs on the health and well-being of our communities."

The Clean Power Plan also will protect Iowa’s natural resources and outdoor recreation opportunities.

“Carbon pollution reductions under the Clean Power Plan will also help protect Iowa’s wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Bob Bernard, Conservation Chair of Trout Unlimited North Bear Chapter and leader with Citizens’ Climate Lobby Central Iowa Chapter.  “Carbon pollution contributes to conditions that impair wildlife habitat and diminish their populations.” 

Following Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical on climate issues, leaders in Iowa’s religious community say the Clean Power Plan will help advance the moral mission to help those in communities enjoy cleaner air and lead healthier lives.

"Emissions from coal-fired power plants are the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Related emissions of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and mercury all have negative impacts on human health and affect people who are poor in a disproportionate manner,” said Rev. Dr. Jim Martin-Schramm, Professor of Religion at Luther College in Decorah. “The Clean Power Plan will lead to significant reductions in these emissions and commensurate improvements in the lives of many people. It is a good strategy that deserves moral support by people of faith."

The Clean Power Plan will build a stronger economy in Iowa, create jobs and lead to healthier communities with greater savings for Iowans.