MidAmerican Energy denies supporting Iowa bill to drop efficiency program requirement
- A Republican lawmaker in Iowa proposed a bill Jan. 24 to eliminate requirements that utilities in the state offer energy efficiency programs to help customers save, sparking rumors that MidAmerican Energy was behind the legislation.
- The utility has proposed cutting back on its programs, or "right-sizing" them as it explained in its application last year. But Energy News Network reports the utility has denied being behind the legislation to eliminate the program requirements.
- According to MidAmerican, its spending on efficiency programs is among the highest in the nation. The utility said its residential customers are each paying about $125 annually for energy efficiency programs, and its very largest customers spend more than $1 million.
MidAmerican does want to cut its efficiency programs, but its position on the Republican bill is "undecided," according to the legislature's site for lobbyist declarations. So far, none of the 60 or so lobbyists to make a declaration are supporting the measure, SSB 3078. Most are undecided, and about two dozen are against it.
But Environmental Law & Policy Center attorney Josh Mandelbaum told Energy News Network he had "heard from multiple sources that MidAmerican is the driving force behind the bill to eliminate energy efficiency."
The bill strikes several code sections which require "rate-regulated electric and gas utilities to offer energy efficiency programs to customers through energy efficiency plans." The bill is sponsored by Sen. Randy Feenstra (R).
But in November, MidAmerican did request authorization from the Iowa Utilities Board to reduce spending on the programs. The utility said increasing amounts of renewable generation in its fuel mix "highlights the need to reduce utility spending on energy efficiency."
The utility said it spends 7.7% of its revenue on energy efficiency programs, "higher than any state in the nation," according to its application.
MidAmerican proposed reducing per-customer spending to $58 annually, about a 54% decrease in the costs they pay for efficiency programs. A commercial customer’s cost would decrease $152 per year, and an average industrial customer could see savings of more than $6,500 per year.
In total, the utility proposed spending almost $360 million between 2019 and 2023 on efficiency programs, compared to $510 million in the current five-year period.
"Some of MidAmerican’s largest industrial customers could realize an average annual savings of $435,000," the utility told regulators. "These reductions will still result in the robust plan outlined in this docket, but also will
keep more money in customers’ pockets."
The utility's plan aims to provide cumulative savings of 920 million kWh and 29 million therms. MidAmerican says that by 2023, the plan is projected to reduce electric peak demand by 472 MW.
- Energy News Network Iowa utility aims to ‘right-size’ – but not repeal – efficiency programs
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