May 9, 2022 - News

Des Moines and MidAmerican to partner on energy goals

An illustration of MidAmerican Energy company

Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

MidAmerican Energy will pledge to help the city of Des Moines reach its environmental goals under a draft agreement published online last week.

Why it matters: The partnership could influence future environmental and economic policies involving one of the Midwest's largest energy companies.

Driving the news: The City Council will consider on Monday 13-year electric and gas franchise renewals with MidAmerican, which gives the utility company permission to use the public rights-of-way to service customers.

  • The cooperation agreement is a separate document that will be considered in June, after the third and final public hearings for the franchise renewals.

Details: The cooperation agreement calls for the city and MidAmerican to explore green energy development together.

  • A specific plan would be developed by the end of this year.

The intrigue: MidAmerican warned city officials in 2020 that Des Moines' goal to divorce itself from fossil fuel electricity by 2035 could increase Des Moines ratepayer bills by hundreds of dollars each month.

  • MidAmerican didn't directly respond to Axios' inquiry about whether it has new rate projections linked with meeting DSM's goals.

What they're saying: MidAmerican spokesperson Geoff Greenwood told Axios the company will engage with the city to help maintain affordable rates as directives are established in coming months.

Meanwhile, Matt Ohloff, of the Iowa Environmental Council (IEC), told Axios the group's members will urge the council at tonight's meeting to amend the franchise contracts so they can more easily be canceled if the energy goal cooperation is unsuccessful.

Of note: The IEC is among the environmental groups pushing for MidAmerican to close its five coal plants prior to their planned phaseouts by 2049, claiming they cost ratepayers millions of dollars in unnecessary expenses each year.

  • While MidAmerican has been working to increase renewable energy, Greenwood told us last year that coal plants are important for the foreseeable future in times when sun or wind are not adequate.

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