Iowa State University Power Plant
Iowa State University Power Plant is a coal-fired power station owned and operated by Iowa State University on Iowa State campus in Ames, Iowa.The plant uses 155,000 tons of coal and generates 28,000 tons of coal ash per year. The plant has been in operation for since the late 1800s, and has been protested by students as part of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign.
In April 2009 students from Environmental Watchdog and ActivUs, a student-led environmental and social justice organization on campus formerly known as Students for Iowa Public Interest Research Group, along with several faculty members protested the plant, calling on the University to run the plant on renewables. According to Assistant Director of Utilities Jeff Witt, coal will be part of the system for the foreseeable future, but the University is making steps toward supplementing the coal with other forms of energy over the coming years, such as purchasing up five megawatts of power from a wind farm near Ames, roughly equal to 7 to 8 percent of campus demand. The action marked the beginning of the Beyond Coal Campaign, a nationwide effort aimed at making colleges and universities leaders in sustainability, intending to replace polluting coal plants with cleaner renewable energy options.
On October 11, 2010, ActivUs teamed up with the Sierra Club, Sierra Student Coalition, and Greenpeace to continue carrying out the Beyond Coal Campaign message. The ISU organizations started at the heart of the Ames community — the ISU campus. Powering campus for more than 115 years, the ISU Power Plant — located just northwest of Lied Recreation Athletic Center on Beach Road — provides 70 percent of the university's energy and burns 148,965 tons of coal per year. Through its campaign, the group hopes to empower the school to become a leader in sustainability and help people recognize the urgency of climate change.
After bringing the campaign to Iowa State, other campuses like the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa are jumping on board with the Beyond Coal Campaign, as well as Michigan State University. As part of a celebration for the International Day of Action on Climate Change on Oct. 10, 2010 — 10/10/10 — ActivUs held a sustainability march from the power plant to the steps of Beardshear. The march was open to anyone who would like to come and express how they feel about the usage of coal plants and their unsustainable nature. While Iowa State has taken some prominent steps toward cleaner energy — like purchasing 10 percent of its energy from wind — three-fourths of it is still being produced from coal. Iowa State Daily, which covered the protest, noted that there are 13,000 deaths that occur each year from fine-particle particulate pollution from U.S. power plants, according to a study done by the Clean Air Task Force, with the state of Iowa being one of the top five killers in the nation. The paper also noted that Iowa State gets its coal from Kentucky and Illinois and, once this coal is burned, the remaining 77 tons of fly ash coal waste is sent to Waterloo each day where it is dumped into an unlined and unmonitored quarry. Such disposal could lead to contamination of the water supply since fly ash contains harmful levels of radioactive elements such as uranium and thorium, as well as arsenic, boron, mercury, and lead.
The group plans to hold a 5K Beyond Coal Run in November 2010, as well as meet with university administrators to discuss the options the university has, host a day that will draw attention to issues that the university faces while still employing the use of coal and show movie screenings showcasing films that depict the struggles the world is facing due to its dependency on coal. ActivUs hopes to attend the United Nations Conference on Climate Change and run a campaign to try and get the school to stop selling bottled water.
- Owner: Iowa State University
- Parent Entity: State of Iowa
- Plant Nameplate Capacity: 46.0 MW (Megawatts)
- Units and In-Service Dates: 6.2 MW (1960), 11.5 MW (1970), 13.2 MW (1978), 15.1 MW (2005)
- Location: Wallace Rd., Ames, IA 50011 (just north of Lied Recreation Facility)
- GPS Coordinates: 42.027639, -93.637922
- Electricity Production: 155,874 MWh (2005)
- Coal Consumption: 155,000 tons (2009)
- Coal Source:
- Number of Employees:
- CO2 Emissions: 335,222 tons (2006), 374,959.69 tons (2008)
- SO2 Emissions: 2,061 tons (2002), 2,995.05 tons (2008)
- SO2 Emissions per MWh: 26.44 lb/MWh
- NOx Emissions: 466 tons (2002), 451.61 tons (2008)
- Mercury Emissions:
Articles and Resources
- Matt Nosco,"Activists march against the University’s use of coal" Iowa State University, April 22, 2009
- Tessa Callender, "ActivUs promotes its Beyond Coal Campaign" Iowa State Daily, October 11, 2010.
- Iowa Operating Permit Application, Title V Annual Emissions Summary
- Iowa Operating Permit Application, Form 5.0, Title V Annual Emissions Summary
- Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed Jan. 2009.
- Environmental Integrity Project, "Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants", July 2007.
- Facility Registry System, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, accessed Jan. 2009.
- Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed Feb. 2009.
- NETL Coal Power Plant Database, National Energy Technology Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy, 2007.
- AirData Query Database, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, accessed April 2009.
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