MidAmerican Energy settles with Sierra Club on power plant retrofits

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MidAmerican Energy Co. reached a settlement agreement with the Sierra Club to continue to build on its already strong environmental performance and promote renewable energy in its service territory.

Several years ago, MidAmerican Energy implemented a plan to install environmental improvements — such as completing installation of scrubbers and baghouses at its Louisa Generating Station and Walter Scott, Jr. Energy Center Unit 3, while starting new projects to install scrubbers and baghouses at its Neal Energy Center Units 3 and 4 — which aligned with existing and anticipated requirements by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and well positions the plants to operate long into the future to provide energy for customers. Under the settlement agreement, MidAmerican Energy will add to its programs to educate customers about renewable energy and its core value of environmental respect.

MidAmerican Energy demonstrates environmental respect by proactively engaging in emissions reduction projects and advancing renewable energy projects and has become one of the largest rate-regulated utility owners of renewable generation in the U.S.

Prior to the Sierra Club's notice of intent to sue, MidAmerican Energy had completed major emissions control projects at its generating facilities in 2007 and 2009 and is currently engaged in additional projects to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter at its generating facilities, with project completion dates later this year and next year.

In July 2012, MidAmerican Energy received a notice of intent to sue from the Sierra Club, alleging violations of certain provisions of the Clean Air Act at MidAmerican Energy's Neal Energy Center North, located in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa; Riverside Generating Station, located in Bettendorf, Iowa; and Walter Scott, Jr. Energy Center, located in Council Bluffs, Iowa. MidAmerican Energy is one of a number of utilities across the U.S. that have received such a notice from the Sierra Club.

MidAmerican Energy has been and remains in compliance with the law. MidAmerican Energy consistently and fully reports its environmental performance to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which reviews the reports and determines whether it is appropriate to pursue enforcement against MidAmerican Energy's plants. The Iowa DNR has not pursued enforcement against any of MidAmerican Energy's plants.

MidAmerican Energy entered into settlement discussions as a means to avoid costs to its customers, unnecessary delays and ongoing uncertainty associated with litigation.

Settlement negotiations resulted in a consent decree, which was filed with the U.S. District Court in Iowa. Regardless of the consent decree, MidAmerican Energy will continue to comply with all environmental regulations, including the following actions, which also are listed as commitments in the consent decree:

By Dec. 31, 2014, MidAmerican Energy will complete installation of baghouses at Neal Energy Center Units 3 and 4. This work is already underway and was in progress prior to the notice of intent to sue.

By April 16, 2016, MidAmerican Energy will cease burning solid fuel (i.e., coal) at Neal Energy Center Boilers 1 and 2 (total of 418 MW); Walter Scott, Jr. Energy Center Boilers 1 and 2 (total of 118.2 MW); and is evaluating the use of other fuels, such as natural gas, for continued operations of these facilities. MidAmerican Energy also will cease burning solid fuel at Riverside Generating Station (total of 137.4 MW) and will continue to operate this facility using natural gas.

MidAmerican Energy also will fund and implement a supplemental environmental project and is working with Iowa State Fair officials on the possible installation of a 60-kW solar project at the Iowa State fairgrounds.

The project would include a public display that shows the energy system output and provides information about distributed solar generation, related federal and state tax credits, and net metering tariffs. The project would be in addition to the demonstration array MidAmerican Energy installed at its visitors center in 2011.

MidAmerican Energy Co., Iowa's largest energy company, provides electric service to 732,000 customers and natural gas service to 714,000 customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. It is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa.

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POWERGRID International

April 2014
Volume 19, Issue 4
1404pg-cover

ELECTRIC LIGHT & POWER

March 2014
Volume 92, Issue 2
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