Iowa company to close country’s 200th coal plant

An Iowa utility will phase out coal at a handful of power plants in the state, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Justice announced Wednesday, marking the 200th coal plant to close nationwide in the last five years. 

Interstate Power and Light Co., a subsidiary of Alliant Energy, has agreed to either close five of its Iowa power plants or switch from coal to natural gas as the result of a legal settlement with the EPA. The company will install pollution control technology at two other plants in the state.

ADVERTISEMENT

Federal officials, along with the  State of Iowa, Linn County, Iowa, and the Sierra Club, had alleged the company was violating the Clean Air Act by emitting more pollution than was allowed by its air permits. The company has agreed to pay $6 million on environmental mitigation projects and $1.1 million in civil fines to resolve the complaint.

“To serve the communities in which they operate, power plants must protect clean air for those living nearby,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. 

“This case delivers on the goals of EPA’s national enforcement initiative to reduce air pollution from the largest sources. By installing new equipment and funding mitigation projects, Interstate Power and Light can help conserve energy and cut pollution in communities across Iowa.”

The Sierra Club said the closures will mean 200 coal plants have shut down in the United States since 2010. The group has been waging a campaign against coal plants around the country, and praised the settlement on Wednesday. 

“The days of coal-fired power plants putting Americans at risk are coming to an end,”  Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement. 

“In Iowa and across the country, people are demanding clean air and clean water — and they are winning. Iowa is a leader in America’s transition from coal to renewable energy, and is providing a model for other communities as they demand and realize a 100 percent clean energy future.”

Alliant said the settlement will allow the company to focus on offering more clean energy in the future.

“The terms we negotiated in this settlement are consistent with our long-term plan for clean energy,” company president Doug Kopp said in a statement. “We settled with the EPA to avoid unnecessary delays and ongoing uncertainty associated with litigation."