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Energy Publications

IEC publishes papers and reports on energy topics throughout the year. Find publications on the topics below. 

Energy Generation | Wind Publications | Solar Publications | Partner Publications

Coal in Siouxland: MidAmerican Energy's Legacy of Air Pollution and Health Impacts

Released on World Asthma Day, this report examines the relationship between pollution from coal plants and lung disease in Woodbury County. Written in partnership with public health experts from organizations including the American Lung Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska’s Winnebago Comprehensive Healthcare System, the report highlights how two coal-fired power plants in northwest Iowa operated by MidAmerican Energy harm the health of Siouxland, the multi-state, three county region surrounding Sioux City, IA.  The report was then presented in a webinar on July 24th, 2024, which can be viewed below.

Building a Reliable and Resilient 21st Century Electric Grid

Many wonder how we can build a reliable and resilient power system using wind and solar to fully decarbonize the electric sector. Grid operators across the U.S. and world have already shown that utilities can maintain or even improve electricity reliability by responsibly building out a mix of renewable and battery resources, and their studies show that reliability can further improve with much larger additions. Michael Goggin of Grid Strategies explores this issue in a document prepared for IEC in October 2022. 

Electricity Reliability: The Real Reason the Midwest is Facing Potential Blackouts

The summer of 2022 is shaping up to be another one for the record books in terms of heat. We've seen more demand for air conditioning and further strain on electricity resources. At every opportunity, fossil fuel companies claim that renewables are to blame for this strain. This is not true. A rapid and full transition to clean energy can save Iowans money while improving reliability and grid resilience to extreme weather events. 

Iowa Electric Generation: Condition of the State 2023

Iowa’s renewable energy leadership has been often-praised and is real. But as the state approaches higher levels of renewable use, our electric utilities continue to own and operate massive coal operations, polluting Iowa’s air and water, risking health, and charging us unnecessary costs on our utility bills. Business as usual, where Iowa utilities continue to burn coal well into the next several decades, is not necessary, not responsible, and will not make the fast but reliable clean energy transition we need possible.

In September 2023, IEC published Iowa Electric Generation: Condition of the State 2023, which analyzes the the state of Iowa's energy generation, where Iowa's emissions are coming from, and the impacts Iowa's remaining fossil fuel generation has on our environment, health, and pocketbooks.  

In 2021, IEC published three whitepapers, intended to summarize some of the high-level takeaways from the Condition of the State publication. 

Iowa's Road to 100% Renewable

Iowa has long been a leader in renewable energy. With more than 10,000 MW of wind now in Iowa, the state passed an important threshold by generating more power from wind than from coal in 2019. In April 2020, IEC published Iowa’s Road to 100% Renewable, which looks at how this success is the foundation of our clean energy future, and compares a dozen recent studies on renewable energy needs by 2050. The paper quantifies the renewable energy needs in the U.S., and Iowa’s contribution for a clean energy future.

Industrial & Agricultural Electrification Study 

IEC partnered with Michael's Energy to conduct a study to assess the opportunity for electrification of industrial and agricultural end-uses to facilitate economic development in Iowa where natural gas supplies are constrained. The study analyzed a number of facilities across the state and made recommendations. The report was published in December 2023 with funding from the Iowa Economic Development Authority, Alliant Energy, and the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives. 

Wind Publications

Wind Rules: Best Practices for County Wind Siting Ordinances 

In April 2019, IEC partnered with the University of Northern Iowa's Center for Energy & Environmental Education to present a webinar on wind siting best practices and examples of the best county wind siting provisions from around Iowa. These best practices are guidelines for counties to consider that will balance wind development with short- and long-term considerations of county residents and infrastructure.

Wind Turbines and Health

In January 2019, IEC partnered with the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center with the University of Iowa College of Public Health and the Iowa Policy Project to publish a comprehensive review of recent scientifically valid research on sound from wind turbines and any impact on human health. The joint statement analyzes scientific studies, rather than anecdotal evidence, to draw a conclusion about health risks from wind turbine noise. The authors found little scientific evidence linking wind turbine noise to human health problems. The paper is designed to be a resource for anyone looking for information about the safety of wind turbines for human neighbors.

Successful County Wind Siting Practices in Iowa

In June 2018, the Council released Successful County Wind Siting Practices in Iowa, a publication that provides a comprehensive overview of the best practices in wind siting ordinances in Iowa. This tool is designed to be used by local county staff and officials to aid in developing appropriate ordinances that address safety concerns and other issues commonly encountered with wind development.

Solar Publications

Iowa Solar Siting Resource Guide: A Roadmap for Counties

In February 2020, the Council partnered with the Center for Rural Affairs to create the publication Iowa Solar Siting Resource Guide: A Roadmap for Counties, which provides a comprehensive overview of the best practices in solar siting ordinances in Iowa. This tool is designed to be used by local county staff and officials to aid in developing appropriate ordinances that address siting, zoning, and other issues commonly encountered with solar development.

Renewable Solar Energy Systems Model Ordinance

In 2021, Iowa Environmental Council collaborated with 1000 Friends of Iowa and the Nature Conservancy to publish Renewable Solar Energy Systems Model Ordinance. The publication is intended facilitate the construction, installation and operation of Solar Energy Systems (SES) in a manner that promotes local renewable energy production and economic development while protecting property values and ensuring the protection of the public health, safety and welfare. Renewable Solar Energy Systems enhance grid reliability and reduce peak power demands. 

Real Potential, Ready Today: Solar Energy in Iowa

In 2014, the Council released Real Potential, Ready Today: Solar Energy in Iowa, a publication that provides an in-depth look at the many benefits solar PV offers beyond energy including:  job creation, consumer savings, cleaner air and water, innovation and technology investment, and improved stability in the electric grid. Updated in March 2016, the report also highlights prominent examples of solar installations from around the state and explains common public policies used in Iowa and nationwide to support solar energy.

Partner Publications

The Economic, Fiscal, and Social Impacts of Utility-Owned Coal-Fired Power Plants in Iowa

In 2021, IEC commissioned a study with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to examine the local economic, fiscal, and social impact of the remaining utility-owned coal-fired power plants in the state to help local and state decision-makers better understand and plan for energy transition.

Wind Potential & Economic Impacts in Iowa

In 2015, the Council partnered with the Iowa Wind Energy Association (IWEA) to release two publications, one about Iowa's wind potential, and the other about the economic impacts of wind in Iowa.

Iowa's Wind Potential

The first report, Iowa's Wind Potential for Addressing 111(d) Goals: The Potential for Tapping Iowa's Wind Resources to Reduce CO2 Emissions, was released in May 2015 and authored by wind industry experts Dan Turner, Ph.D., and Thomas A. Wind, P.E.

The Economic Impact of Iowa's Wind Potential
The second report, Economic Impacts of Wind Energy in Iowa: Four Scenarios, was released in August 2015 and authored by Dave Swenson, an associate scientist in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University.

Solar Publications

Shining Bright: Growing Solar Jobs in Iowa

In March 2011, the Iowa Policy Project released Shining Bright: Growing Solar Jobs in Iowa, a report outlining how solar energy can help build Iowa's economy.