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State Senator Michael Breitbach and the Winneshiek Energy District differ on the worth of legislation to change utility regulations in Iowa

Posted: Fri, Feb 9, 2018 1:39 PM

The Iowa Senate has begun reviewing legislation which would make changes in the regulation of utilities in Iowa.

Senate Study Bill 3093 eliminates the requirement that rate-regulated utilities add charges to their bills to fund energy efficiency projects.  State Senator Michael Breitbach of Strawberry Point calls the proposed legislation "pro-growth energy policy," saying he supports the measure because "It lowers costs for Iowans, job creators, public entities, and any customer of a rate-regulated utility in Iowa."

Staffers at Winneshiek Energy District don't see it that way, however.  The group's latest newsletter says such programs have been important in the past.  The newsletter notes, "such "opt-out" has been rejected by the Iowa Utilities Board in the past and should not be allowed now."

The newsletter also criticizes other portions of SSB 3093, saying, "This bill is fundamentally a de-regulation bill, giving freer rein to utilities."  It points to a provision which allows rate-regulated utilities to adjust charges (rates or tariffs) within customer classes with a simple filing at the Iowa Utilities Board, a filing that the IUB is not required to review nor to schedule a public hearing for.

Breitbach, however, argues reliable and affordable electricity will help Iowa's economy.  He concludes, "SSB 3093 is one more piece of legislation to encourage growth, attract investment and create an environment for better career opportunities."