The Iowa senate could be voting as soon as Monday 26 Feb 2018 on legislation that will scale back energy efficiency efforts.
Senate File 2311, which days ago passed out of a Senate committee, would jeopardise energy efficiency efforts in the region. Utilities would no longer receive funding for energy efficiency programmes for customers, programmes which would no longer be mandatory.
Future funding for programmes would only be available if customers voluntarily paid into the energy efficiency fund.
If the bill passes, customers can expect rebates for smart thermostats, energy-saving appliances, and home energy audits to be scaled back, despite public polls showing 97% of Iowans support increasing energy efficiency.
Large industrial customers would be able to opt out of energy efficiency programmes altogether, allowing them to reap the grid and societal benefits of efficiency while shifting the associated costs to businesses and homeowners.
The legislation would impact the 20,000 Iowans working in the energy efficiency sector and undermine key objectives of Iowa’s state-wide Energy Plan — to promote widespread adoption of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The bill is in conflict with the findings of a September 2017 energy efficiency potential study completed for the Iowa Utilities Association. The study found that 17% of electricity use and 15% of gas use in the state could be saved cost-effectively through efficiency programs over the next decade.
Ultimately, this new legislation will shift the states formula for determining cost effectiveness, eliminating any consideration of the long-term societal benefits that energy efficiency provides to customers.
A history of energy saving
Utilities have saved 400,000 – 500,000 MWh since state legislature and Iowa Utilities Board strengthened energy saving efforts in 2008, by extending the requirement to municipal utilities and cooperatives and directing investor-owned utilities (IOU) to increase annual savings.
Since 2009, MidAmerican and Interstate Power & Light have provided approximately 10% of customers’ total annual electricity needs and produced lifetime savings equal to five years of total residential electricity consumption.
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