Waterloo plant's demise stirs debate about Marshalltown project - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo plant's demise stirs debate about Marshalltown project

by Bryan Goettel

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Plains Justice is an environmental law center founded in Cedar Rapids a couple of years ago largely to fight the proposed coal plant in Waterloo. But Tuesday's news that those plans are off the table was not cause for celebration at the center. Instead, it has attorneys shifting their focus to the proposed plant in Marshalltown.

Plains Justice president Carrie La Seur saw this day coming.

"Looking at the Waterloo plan it just didn't seem possible that private investors would have an appetite for that kind of risk," said La Seur.

A similar proposal by Alliant Energy to build a coal plant in Marshalltown is further along. But La Seur envisions the same kind of problems.

"I'm much more concerned now with Marshalltown than I had been about Waterloo because this is a risk that gets shifted directly to ratepayers," said La Seur.

"Really you're comparing apples to oranges to the type of facility that they were building," said Alliant spokesperson Ryan Stensland.

Stensland admits the price tag is hefty, but feels it's still the best option for Iowa.

"The cost of delay and the cost of doing nothing far outweighs the costs that we're going to incur to build this facility and really be able to provide reliable power to customers for the next forty to fifty years," said Stensland.

Stensland says he's prepared for any changes in regulation that could come with the new administration. La Seur feels it's just another factor that makes the project too risky.

"To my mind it's not prudent to leap into a new greenhouse gas source right on the doorstep of regulation of that pollutant," said La Seur.

Stensland says the next big step in the Marshalltown plant moving forward is securing an air permit. And while he admits the limits will be strict, he is confident that construction will begin in the second half of this year.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel

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