Facebook, Microsoft ask Iowa regulators to support distributed generation

Dive Brief:

  • Microsoft and Facebook are urging Iowa regulators to take a balanced approach to supporting distributed generation, according to a filing with the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB).
  • Scores of stakeholders have filed initial comments in the IUB's investigation into distributed generation.
  • Echoing utility comments from other states like Arizona, utilities told the IUB that they were concerned that customers with rooftop solar would avoid some costs, increasing the rate burden on customers without distributed resources.

Dive Insight:

According to tech giants Facebook and Microsoft, which have operations in Iowa, distributed generation is coming soon. “It is not 'if,' or even 'when,' but rather the issue before the Board is how to avoid being overtaken by outside events – how to best transition Iowa’s utilities, Iowa’s grid, Iowa’s consumers (including large energy customers such as Microsoft and Facebook) and Iowa’s regulatory framework in a timely way to reflect the reality that distributed generation is no longer a de minimis part of the energy landscape,” the companies said.

Utility regulation may need to change to support growing distributed generation, according to the companies. "Utilities may require assistance as we transition from a largely centralized grid to one that incorporates more distributed generation," they said. "Incentives likely need to shift from construction and ownership of more and more physical plant to utilities being compensated on other bases to obtain a reasonable return."

Recommended Reading:

Des Moines Register: Iowans weigh in on distributed energy generation