This past week, State Senator Michael Breitbach of Strawberry Point floor managed the Iowa Senate's discussion of Senate File 2311, a bill that would make a number of changes in the state's regulation of utilities. The bill, which was passed by the Senate and sent to the Iowa House for review, creates an opt-out program for customers who don't want to participate in energy efficiency initiatives.
In his weekly newsletter, Breitbach says utility customers are not aware that they are the ones paying for energy efficiency programs offered through public utilities because utility companies are prohibited by law from showing the charge on their bills. Says Breitbach, "These programs are not free. You, the customer, have been paying for them on your bill since 1990 whether you take advantage of them or not." Breitbach says Senate File 2311 "creates billing transparency for Iowa's utility customers."
The legislation would lower the percentage of a bill that utility companies can charge customers for energy efficiency programs to 2 percent for electric utilities and 1.5 percent for natural gas utilities. Customers would be allowed to "opt out" of energy efficiency programs. If they did "opt out," they would not be eligible for energy efficiency rebates from their utility.
Says Breitbach, "The bill would require disclosure of this secret tax that has been on the customers' bills since 1990 and has cost Iowans...just shy of $2.6 billion."