Study: Economic impacts of closing coal power plants in Iowa

October 11, 2021

Peter OrazemPeter Orazem, university professor, collaborated on a study that looked at the significant but manageable challenges to the seven Iowa communities where coal-fueled power plants are located. The study, titled “The Economic, Fiscal, and Social Impacts of Utility-Owned Coal-Fired Power Plants in Iowa,” commissioned by the Iowa Environmental Council, analyzed the economic impact of the power plants to help local community leaders prepare for the future.

One of the most important findings of the study was the pay differential between jobs at the plants and available replacement jobs in the area. Dr. Peter Orazem, a professor of economics at Iowa State University, collaborated on the study. “Jobs in electric utilities are generally well-paying and pay better than similar jobs in the area,” explained Dr. Orazem. “When these plants close, it is likely workers will have to move to other plants to find similar pay or take a substantial pay cut to stay in their current location.” Ensuring workers can obtain jobs adequate to support themselves and their families is an important part of transition planning.

“As a statewide organization seeking to drive an equitable and beneficial transition to clean power in Iowa, we’re committed to helping business leaders, community leaders, and locally elected officials where coal-fueled power plants are located plan to effectively manage the changes required to have 100 percent clean power in Iowa by 2035,” added Kerri Johannsen, Energy Program Director with IEC. “We commissioned this study to ensure that all Iowans benefit from this transition.”

In August, the Iowa Environmental Council set a goal for Iowa to reach 100 percent clean power by 2035.

Orazem was interviewed in an Oct. 11 KCRG story, "John Deere, UAW resume negotiations after contract rejection; future strike possible."

Iowa State University economics professor Peter Orazem said strikes have become very uncommon, especially during economic slowdowns - and that the current situation is different because employees have more leverage due to labor shortages.

“This is probably the best bargaining position that John Deere has been in many years,” Orazem said. “I mean the company is doing very well and the company wants to be expanding and doesn’t have enough workers”

This story also covered by KCCI-TV, Oct. 12

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