Monday, June 10, 2013
1 – MidAmerican Decides Against Iowa Nuclear Plant (Des Moines Register, June 3, 2013)
2 – MidAmerican Energy to Invest $1.9 Billion Building 1,050 MW of New Wind Power Projects in Iowa (Des Moines Register, May 8,, 2013)
This is the impact of effective environmental advocacy, public policy shifts, the prevailing electricity market economics and the prevailing public preferences for renewable energy all coming together. Good for jobs, good for economic growth, good for holding down utility rates for consumers, and good for our environment.
FYI, Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway own 90%+ of MidAmerican Energy.
MidAmerican decides against Iowa nuclear plant
MidAmerican Energy says design plan isn’t approved; environmentalists celebrate
June 3, 2013
Written by: PERRY BEEMAN AND WILLIAM PETROSKI
MidAmerican Energy has scrapped plans for Iowa’s second nuclear plant and will refund $8.8 million ratepayers paid for a now-finished feasibility study, utility officials said Monday.
The utility has decided against building any major power plant. That’s because there is no approved design for the modular nuclear plant it envisioned, and there are too many questions about limits on carbon emissions from a natural gas plant, the company said.
“We opted for what was in the best interest of our customers,” MidAmerican vice president for regulatory affairs Dean Crist told The Des Moines Register.
The decision ends, for now, a three-year controversy over the future of nuclear energy in Iowa and how to pay for a possible nuclear plant. . . .
MidAmerican Energy will invest $1.9 billion in wind projects in Iowa
May 8, 2013
Written by: WILLIAM PETROSKI
Gov. Terry Branstad announced Wednesday that MidAmerican Energy will make a $1.9 billion investment in Iowa for wind energy projects that will be the biggest single economic investment ever in the state.
“As wind energy goes, so does Iowa’s economy,” said Branstad, who spoke enthusiastically about the plans. He added, “Remember, once they make this investment it will be here for the next 40 or 50 years.”
MidAmerican officials said no sites have been selected yet, but they hinted the sites would be in northwest Iowa and south of Interstate Highway 80 in western Iowa.
Branstad, speaking at a late afternoon news conference, said MidAmerican Energy Co. will add up to 1,050 megawatts of wind generation, consisting of up to 656 new wind turbines, in Iowa by year-end 2015.
The wind expansion will enhance economic development and provide in excess of $360 million in additional property tax revenues over the next 30 years, officials said. Landowner payments totaling $3.2 million per year also are expected as a result of the expansion.
In addition, the expansion is planned to be built at no net cost to the company’s customers and will help stabilize electric rates over the long term by providing a rate reduction totaling $10 million per year by 2017, commencing with a $3.3 million reduction in 2015, MidAmerican officials said.
“As a leader in wind generation, the state of Iowa welcomes the opportunity to expand our renewable energy portfolio. MidAmerican Energy’s proposed project will be the largest economic development investment in the history of the state, bringing needed jobs to Iowa, as well as significant economic benefits,” Branstad said. . . .
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
On June 3, MidAmerican Energy officials said the company has scrapped plans for a new nuclear power plant in Iowa and will refund $8.8 million to Iowa ratepayers. The decision ends a 3-year debate over the plant’s financial feasibility. Read about it in the Des Moines Register.
ELPC and a coalition of public interest, consumer and environmental groups united in opposition to MidAmerican’s plan, which would shift the financial burden and risk away from investors and instead onto Iowa ratepayers. ELPC advocated fully considering and implementing renewable energy and energy efficiency options and will continue to pursue those clean energy solutions.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Cooper: Example of 4 Southern States Proves That “Robbing” Ratepayers Before Power is Produced Leads to More Expensive Reactors, Higher Than Necessary Rates for Consumers
DES MOINES, IA – A leading U.S. expert on nuclear reactor financing is warning that a bill pending in the Iowa Senate to allow MidAmerican to charge in advance for the construction of new nuclear reactors could lead to significantly more expensive utility bills for state consumers, up to $70 higher a month ($840 per year).
Analyst Mark Cooper shows how the examples of four Southeastern U.S. states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia – have led to major harms to consumers when “early cost recovery” or “construction work in progress” (CWIP) is used to finance nuclear reactors. If the Iowa Senate measure becomes law, Iowa would become only the fifth state in the U.S. to impose such confiscatory, anti-consumer special interest legislation at the request of the nuclear power industry.
Cooper’s analysis concurs with the Staff of the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB), which examined the controversial nuclear financing scheme before the state legislature (HF561), and concluded that it poses a serious threat to Iowa ratepayers. The Cooper report notes: “In addition to the dismal economics of nuclear power, the primary reason that the practice is limited to a very few states is that advanced cost recovery is fundamentally flawed, placing ratepayers at extraordinary risk for an excessive and unnecessary cost burden that runs into the billions of dollars. The staff of the IUB has raised a number of concerns about the advanced cost recovery legislation now stalled in the Senate that reflect the long-standing and well-documented concerns of ratepayer and consumer advocates.”
Mark Cooper is senior fellow for economic analysis, Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School, and author of “Policy Challenges of Nuclear Reactor Construction, Cost Escalation and Crowding Out Alternatives” (2009).
Commenting on his report, Cooper said: “Past experience and current developments in the few Southeastern U.S. states that have allowed advanced cost recovery for nuclear reactors indicate that removing consumer protections will impose significant costs on Iowa ratepayers and expose them to extraordinarily dangerous risks. The push for early cost recovery for construction of nuclear reactors in Iowa and elsewhere is driven by one basic truth about new nuclear reactors: They are totally uneconomic. The markets won’t touch these projects so the industry’s only alternative is to enlist state lawmakers to leave consumers holding the bag.”
Steven Falck, senior policy advocate, Environmental Law & Policy Center (Des Moines, IA), said: “If this bill passes, Iowans would see massive rate hikes while being stripped of key protections that have served us well. As the IUB staff pointed out, ‘HF 561 would shift nearly all of the construction, licensing, and permitting risk associated with one or more nuclear plants from the company to its customers.’ The ratepayers would be stuck paying for the most expensive power generation and would assume 100 percent of the risk associated with unproven, uncertified, modular nuclear technology.”
The Cooper report notes: “In the four states in the Southeast where funds are being collected from ratepayers under new advanced cost recovery for nuclear reactor construction in the Southeast, each individual nuclear reactor project costs $15 to $20 billion. Over $4 billion has already been approved for advanced cost recovery, yet it appears increasingly unlikely that the most of reactors will ever be built. Ratepayers will have paid billions but received nothing for their money. If reactor construction moves forward as proposed, almost $85 billion of construction costs will move into the utility rate-base causing rapid increases in typical consumer bills within a decade. Less costly, more consumer and environment friendly alternatives will be crowded out of the resource mix.”
The Cooper report also points out:
- New nuclear reactors cannot compete with a large number of alternatives resources that are widely available to meet consumer needs for electricity.
- They are so risky, they cannot raise capital in normal financial markets.
- In order to build new nuclear reactors, the utilities are demanding the suspension of the regulatory rules and financial market mechanisms that protect ratepayers and balance the interests of consumers and utility shareholders.