MidAmerican may replace shuttered coal-fired capacity with natural gas

MidAmerican Energy Co. may build approximately 400 MW of natural gas-fired capacity if Iowa state regulators do not agree to support plans for a new nuclear power plant.

According to the Des Moines Register, MidAmerican will need to replace approximately 400 MW of coal-fired generation capacity as the company shuts down some of its older power plants. The company said it would not be able to bring the plants up to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency compliance for emissions standards economically, the article said.

"MidAmerican Energy believes that, realistically, there will only be two viable large-scale generation alternatives for the future that can be dispatched when customers want energy; those fueled by natural gas and nuclear," said Tina Potthoff, media relations manager with MidAmerican. "Since natural gas prices have historically been very volatile, MidAmerican Energy has initiated an assessment of long-term natural gas prices and is asking the Iowa Legislature for changes that would permit small modular nuclear generating facilities to be considered as an option in Iowa."

House File 561 is currently being debated in the state Legislature and will determine the outcome of the proposed nuclear power plant. If MidAmerican decides to build the nuclear plant, the company will invest the entire amount needed to build the plant over an 8- to 10-year period. Customers will be charged a small portion as MidAmerican Energy makes its investment and then return MidAmerican Energy's investment in the plant over its projected life of 40 to 60 years.

"Proposed nuclear legislation before the Iowa Legislature this session establishes the necessary regulatory construct and regulatory certainty for Iowa to attract the significant capital required for a nuclear facility," Potthoff said. "The proposed nuclear legislation does not allow MidAmerican Energy, or any utility for that matter, to raise rates for a nuclear facility or allow for a nuclear facility to be built; however, it does allow nuclear energy to remain an option for Iowa's energy future."

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