- The Iowa Utilities Board Monday approved MidAmerican Energy's $256 million, five-year efficiency plan, which includes 14 energy efficiency and demand response programs that are expected to provide more than $700 million in net electric benefits.
- Total efficiency spending in the plan is approximately $163 million for electric programs and $33 million on the natural gas side of MidAmerican's services. Demand response spending is about $60 million and includes a residential program allowing MidAmerican to control central air conditioning systems when the utility forecasts strong demand.
- The plan is significantly less costly than the $550 million slate of programs regulators approved in 2013. Iowa lawmakers passed legislation last year that limits utility spending on efficiency programs as a portion of retail revenues.
The impacts of Iowa's 2018 energy efficiency legislation will soon be showing up on customers' bills.
Senate File 2311 capped utility efficiency spending at 2% of retail revenues on the electric side and 1.5% for gas, which regulators say is represented in MidAmerican's plan. The IUB order also notes electric demand response spending under MidAmerican's plan is approximately $60 million, or about 0.8% of retail electric revenue.
"MidAmerican’s energy efficiency and demand response budgets do not exceed the budget criteria contained in" the new law, regulators determined.
According to regulators, the efficiency plan includes $709 million in net electric benefits and more than $41 million in net gas benefits, projected to cumulatively save 767 million kWh and 8.3 million therms, respectively.
The utilities board declined to order MidAmerican to develop a pilot non-wires alternative demand side management program, which advocates had said would defer the need for construction of growth-related infrastructure. Regulators did, however, direct the utility to include updates on pilot projects "as part of its energy efficiency annual reports."
Last year's vote on efficiency spending caps was along party lines, with Republican legislators saying that customers would keep more of their money and make the best spending decisions for themselves. Efficiency advocates called the decision a "huge step backward."