Alliant Energy – Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction (2008)
Outcome: Successfully Withdrawn
In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are now believed, with greater than 90 percent certainty, to be the cause.
In October 2007, a group representing the world’s 150 scientific and engineering academies including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences issued a report urging governments to lower greenhouse gas emissions by establishing a firm and rising price for such emissions and by doubling energy research budgets to accelerate deployment of cleaner and more efficient technologies.
In October 2006, a report authored by former chief economist of The World Bank, Sir Nicolas Stern, estimated that climate change will cost between 5% and 20% of global domestic product if emissions are not reduced, and that greenhouse gases can be reduced at a cost of approximately 1% of global economic growth. The report also warned that “the investment that takes place in the next 10-20 years will have a profound effect on the climate in the second half of this century and in the next.”
U.S. power plants are responsible for nearly 40 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, and 10 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.
Seventeen U.S. states have established statewide emissions reduction goals and a majority of U.S. states have entered into regional initiatives to reduce emissions. As of September 2007, the U.S. Senate is considering at least seven proposals calling for a national cap-and-trade system to regulate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In May 2007, Standard and Poors indicated that energy efficiency is likely to emerge as a major part of the solution to climate change and warned that, “utility margins may be affected, if revenues and profits decline along with consumption,” unless policies are changed to provide incentives for utilities to reduce consumption of electricity.
In June 2007, Fitch Ratings stated, “until carbon capture becomes economic, [demand-side-management] may be one of the more effective ways to reduce CO2 emissions, particularly if the utility has decoupling mechanisms in its rate design to make it volume-insensitive.”
In a July 2007 speech to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Department of Energy Secretary stated that, “There is no doubt that new energy sources must be developed. But there is also a clear and growing recognition of the role that prioritizing energy efficiency must play”. He also urged regulators to realign incentives so that utilities are financially rewarded for efforts to reduce electricity consumption.
Alliant Energy is proposing to build a 630 megawatt coal-fired power plant in Marshalltown, Iowa, which will emit several million tons of carbon dioxide per year.
Shareholders request a report [reviewed by a board committee of independent directors] on actions the company is taking to design new incentives that will provide financial returns for the company to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving its customers’ energy efficiency. The report should be provided by September 1, 2008 at a reasonable cost and omit proprietary information.