Last year, in efforts during the “Beyond Coal” campaign, the Sierra Club threatened to file a federal lawsuit against MidAmerican for alleged violations of the U.S. Clean Air Act and state environmental regulations at various Iowa power plants. While the company denied that it violates smokestack emissions laws, a proposed consent decree was filed Tuesday with the U.S. District Court for Iowa’s southern district.
In the five coal-burning power plants, MidAmerican has not yet decided whether to convert the units to burn natural gas or another energy source. The units are at three power plants in Sergeant Bluff, Council Bluffs, and Bettendorf. In addition to the coal-burning changes, MidAmerican also agreed to install a solar array at the Iowa State Fairgrounds and to complete pollution-control upgrades on two other Iowa coal-burning units by the end of 2014.
The decision to move away from coal-burning generation units is a topic that many electric companies will face in coming years. With the deadlines of state and federal pollutant-reduction mandates approaching, outdated coal boilers must either be upgraded or retired to meet emissions standards. Additionally, pressure from groups like the Sierra Club pushes companies to reconsider the use coal burning units.
For more information on the settlement between MidAmerican Energy Co. and the Sierra Club, visit these resources:
MidAmerican Reaches Settlement with Sierra Club, MidAmerican
MidAmerican settles lawsuit, will curtail coal use, Des Moines Register