MidAmerican Energy says design plan isn’t approved; environmentalists celebrate
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. Iowa has one nuclear power plant, the Duane Arnold plant near Palo.
The MidAmerican study, finished several months early, also noted that the type of modular nuclear plant envisioned could be cost-effective, would be safer than earlier plants and would be a $135 million annual boon to the Iowa economy for 40 to 60 years.
In addition, the 11-year construction would bring another $1.2 billion in spending, a peak of $75 million in payroll, and 1,880 jobs.
But MidAmerican said those modular plants have not been designed and approved yet. And carbon regulations continue to make fossil-fuel plants a tougher proposition, Crist said.
“Yay!” exclaimed Neila Seaman, director of the Iowa Chapter of Sierra Club. “We are glad to hear that they are planning to expand their wind power. We think that is a better option than nuclear power,” Seaman said.
“Nuclear power is dangerous and then there is the waste issue,” Seaman added. “It is expensive and we just think there are better options.”
Others saw it as a victory for clean energy.
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