MidAmerican Energy drops plans for nuclear plant in Iowa

MidAmerican Energy Company has completed its nuclear feasibility study and is sharing the results with Iowa regulators, local officials, landowners and the media. MidAmerican Energy also is proposing to refund a substantial amount of the funds collected to conduct the assessment.

The nuclear feasibility study, which has been underway since 2010, resulted in several conclusions: (1) there are viable sites in Iowa that are potentially acceptable for a nuclear generation facility; (2) new small modular reactors can be a cost-effective alternative to other forms of generation when carbon emissions are constrained or taxed; and (3) new nuclear technologies will offer significantly enhanced safety capabilities. The study also concluded that it is premature, given the uncertainty of carbon regulation and the extensive regulatory review for new nuclear reactor designs, to immediately pursue any additional site work on a future generation option, including a nuclear facility.

The assessment was submitted to the Iowa Utilities Board on June 3. Because MidAmerican Energy effectively managed costs and completed the assessment ahead of schedule, the company has requested the Iowa Utilities Board approve a plan that allows MidAmerican Energy to refund $8.8 million of the funds collected from its Iowa customers and to stop collecting the half-percent charge for the assessment, effective July 1, three months earlier than planned. The refund and elimination of the half-percent charge for the nuclear assessment will result in a slight decrease in Iowa customers’ bill amounts starting this summer.

In 2010, MidAmerican Energy worked with state regulators, the Office of Consumer Advocate and political leaders to enact a law that authorized an assessment of nuclear generation potential in Iowa. The assessment began in 2010. Since that time, MidAmerican Energy identified various sites that met rigorous nuclear regulatory requirements throughout the state and eventually narrowed the locations to two sites for additional testing. In fall 2012, soil and environmental assessments were taken in Fremont and Muscatine counties to assess land suitability in the event a determination was made to develop a generation facility.

Based on the assessment’s results, no land in Iowa will be purchased by MidAmerican Energy at this time to develop a nuclear generation facility. MidAmerican Energy’s land options in Fremont County will expire, and the company will not pursue an extension on its land options in Muscatine County. The two rural residences that MidAmerican Energy currently owns in Muscatine County will be put up for sale later this year.

MidAmerican Energy will continue to assess and review all sources of generation in order to continue finding ways to serve its customers and remain a low-cost energy provider. MidAmerican Energy’s recent announcement to build additional wind generation is one example of how the company is pursuing options to keep future costs down for customers. If approved by the Iowa Utilities Board, the wind expansion will reduce future customer rates by $10 million a year in 2017, starting with a $3.3 million reduction to customer rates in 2015.

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