Iowa in Good Shape Under Obama Energy Plan - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Iowa in Good Shape Under Obama Energy Plan

By: Jason Rantala

@jarantala

jrantala@myabc5.com

Sweeping changes could be coming to Iowa's energy grid.

President Obama recently announced limits on carbon emissions, as he encouraged the use of alternative energy under a proposed plan.

James McCalley, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Iowa State, says energy companies in Iowa have been investing in renewable energy for close to ten years now.

Already, 25 percent of Iowa's electric energy comes from wind.  

"The fact of the matter is, that's the highest in the nation, so we're in good shape in that way," said McCalley.

While Iowa's two largest utility companies: Alliant and MidAmerican are dependent on coal,  the president's proposal would not completely eliminate its use.

"To say zero nuclear or zero coal, it just seems to be a long-term, unwise approach," said McCalley.

McCalley says older power plants will have to come up to speed to reduce emissions, or risk closing all together.

The biggest concern, he says, is the 2015 deadline, just two years from now.

"They have to move very quickly on their feet right now and I'm a little concerned about that. I would like to see that 2015 date pushed out a little longer, actually, to give us some time," said McCalley.

Overall McCalley sees the new standards as a good thing, since he says it's progress, at the very least.

"What Obama is doing is simply raising the level of discussion," said McCalley. 

While Iowa may be in good shape, the Midwest is still very coal dependent.

States like Ohio and Kentucky could be hurt, unless they adjust quickly.

 

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