Category Archives: Action Alerts

Talking Points to Oppose SF 2311

Oppose Senate File 2311

This bill undermines Iowa’s clean energy leadership by effectively end utility energy efficiency programs, allowing new charges on solar customers, and removing consumer protections and oversight. This bill will increase energy costs, threaten nearly 21,000 solar and energy efficiency jobs, reduce consumer choice, and increase reliance on fossil fuels.

 

Iowa has some of the lowest energy rates in the Midwest and the country while at the same time developing one of the strongest clean energy economies. This bill undermines many of the policies that have led to Iowa’s cost-effective clean energy leadership.

 

Major Issues with SF 2311

 

Deregulation Without Competition

  • Iowa electric and gas utilities are monopolies. Consumers have no choice in their provider for electric or gas service. This bill deregulate utilities without providing for any competition.
  • The bill decreases consumer choice even further. The bill could scale back or even eliminate the few consumer choices available today, including energy efficiency and solar.

 

Undermining Iowa’s Leadership and Economic Benefits on Clean Energy

  • Solar jobs are a fast-growing sector of the economy and are present all over the state. This bill threatens every solar job in the state, over 700 in 2016.
  • There are solar installations in every one of Iowa’s 99 counties with rural Iowa leading on solar.
  • There were over 20,000 direct jobs in the energy efficiency sector in Iowa in 2016.[i] These jobs are threatened as the bill threatens to eliminate energy efficiency programs.
  • In 2016, Iowa was ranked as the third least expensive state overall for energy prices.”[ii] Iowa’s long-standing energy efficiency programs have helped keep energy costs low in Iowa.
  • Utility efficiency programs generate between $2 and $3 in benefits for every $1 invested.

Shifting Costs and Risks to Consumers

  • Reduces needed oversight on all utilities, including the rural electric cooperatives that already have the highest rates and fewest options for customers to manage energy bills.
  • Rolls back energy efficiency, which is a very low-cost resource. Energy efficiency benefits everyone and helps keep utility rates low and stable for all customers. Rolling back energy efficiency will increase costs to customers in the long run.
  • Eliminates oversight on expensive equipment to control emissions at coal plants and replaces with voluntary, pre-approval for passing costs to customers.

 

Attack on Energy Efficiency

  • Makes programs entirely optional for all customers, allowing them to ‘opt in’ every five years.
  • Minimum participation is 10% of customers, meaning that efficiency programs could see a 90% reduction in budgets and participation and satisfy the bill’s requirements.
  • Adds a particular cost-effectiveness test (total resource cost test) that will scale back energy efficiency options and result in less savings.
  • Even with the opt in, puts arbitrary limits on how much utilities spend on energy efficiency (either 1.5% for gas or 2% for electric of a customer’s billing).
  • Reduces or eliminates IUB oversight on rural electric cooperatives energy efficiency.
  • Eliminates IUB reporting on efficiency to the General Assembly, reducing accountability.

 

Attack on Renewable Energy

  • The bills allow utilities to discriminate against solar customers and charge them separate and higher rates.
  • The bills could lead to massive increases in rates to solar customers effectively shutting down the solar industry in Iowa.
  • Exempts rural electric cooperatives from Iowa’s policy to encourage renewable energy (476.41).

 

Attack on Consumer Protection and Consumer Choice

  • Exempts electric coops from rules on customer deposits, meaning there would be no limits on the charges for new customers to get connected or re-connected.
  • Limits or could even eliminate customer options for adding solar or implementing energy efficiency in a home or business.
  • Removes or restricts IUB oversight on a wide range of critical issues, including energy efficiency, coal plant emissions controls, consumer protections, and rural electric coops and municipal utilities.

 

Bill Process

 

SSB 3093 was the original bill number. The bill was amended and passed the Senate Commerce Committee with an 8-7 vote (1 R, 6 Ds voted no, 8 Rs voted yes). After committee passage, the bill number was changed to SF 2311. This bill contains several sections that will roll back energy efficiency programs. Sec. 9 in particular of the bill will decimate the programs and savings.

 

Sec. 17 allows utilities to discriminate against solar customers. (The committee did amend the bill by removing the subsection in Sec. 15 on revenue neutral tariffs.) However, much of the bill was not changed, so concerns discussed above remain.

 

More amendments are expected during floor debate in the Senate, including an amendment to show efficiency costs on customers’ bills.

 

[1] Clean Energy Trust, Clean Jobs Midwest: Iowa (2017) at https://www.cleanjobsmidwest.com/state/iowa.

[1] Iowa Energy Plan (2016) at 4. Available at http://iowaenergyplan.org/.

[i] Clean Energy Trust, Clean Jobs Midwest: Iowa (2017) at https://www.cleanjobsmidwest.com/state/iowa.

[ii] Iowa Energy Plan (2016) at 4. Available at http://iowaenergyplan.org/.

These talking points were put together by our friends at the Iowa Environmental Council.

Help Save Energy Efficiency.

Updated:

Right  now, making it’s way through the Iowa State House is a horrible bill  – Senate File (SF) 2311 (formerly SSB 3093). The bill has passed out of committees in both houses and was passed out of the full senate.  The bill is now awaiting debate in the full house. This bill has sweeping changes that decimates energy efficiency programs, potentially losing over 80% of the current funds, it essentially deregulates utilities in Iowa, leaving all utility customers vulnerable to soaring prices and the whims of the utility companies, and it makes it easier for gas pipelines to be built in Iowa.

If enacted, Senate File (SF) 2311 (formerly SSB 3093), which is being championed by Iowa’s investor owned utilities, would:
  • Effectively deregulate Iowa’s energy utilities;
  • Slash energy efficiency programs, potentially by up to 80% or more;
  • Make it easier for gas pipelines to build in Iowa.
  • And though the bad solar provisions were removed, there is still an effort to put them back into the bill which if added back in, could essentially kill rooftop and community solar by allowing utility companies to discriminate against solar customers.
So what does that mean for you? It means:
This bill is bad for Iowans. Energy efficiency is a key factor that keeps utility rates low in Iowa. If passed,  utility rates will go up. Low income people will lose out on energy efficiency and weatherization programs  programs and utility companies can build unnecessary fossils fuel generation plants and charge all of their customers to foot the bill.
We could see a potential loss of over 20,000 jobs in the energy efficiency sectors and and a loss of over $200,000,000 that would have been savings for utility customers.
If you are asking what we can do about it, keep reading!

Talking points for the overall bill:  Click here.

Energy Efficiency Fact Sheet: Click here.

Another bad bill that is now making it’s way through the senate is SSB 3078. This bill proposes to eliminate all energy efficiency programs. It is on the Ways and Means subcommittee schedule for Monday, March 19 at 3:00 p.m. The subcommittee is made up of Senator Fenestra, Senator Hogg, and Senator R.Schmidt. Please contact all three of them and ask them to oppose SSB 3078.  Click here to find their contact info.

2017 Best Development Award Winners

1000 Friends of Iowa proudly announces eleven recipients as its Best Development Award winners of 2017. Five independent jurors from across the state selected projects that implement the efficient use of our resources to develop sustainable communities that provide a high quality of life.

The 2017 Best Development Award winners are listed below (category, winner, project, city, link). For more information about each project, click the link.

  • In the Innovative Leadership category, the City of Clive for the Walnut Creek and Clive Greenbelt initiatives in Clive <link>
  • In the Mixed Use category, Blackbird Investments for the Wilkins Building in Des Moines <link>
  • In the New Residential category, KCL Engineering for the Parkside Residential Development in Charles City <link>
  • In the Placemaking/Greenspace category, the City of Glidden for the Albert Kruger, Sr. Shelter in Glidden <link>
  • In the Renewable Energy category, St. John the Apostle Catholic Church and Red Lion Renewables for the Solar Array in Norwalk <link>
  • In the Renovated Civic category, the City of Sioux City for the Sioux City Promenade in Sioux City <link>
  • In the Renovated Commercial category, SingleSpeed Brewing Co. for the Wonder Bread Building in Waterloo <link>
  • Renovated Residential category, Downtown Leases and Lofts for the Kibbey Building in Marshalltown <link>
  • In the Stormwater Management category, City of Denison for the 14th Street Parking Lot in Denison <link>
  • In the Transportation/Complete Streets category, the City of Muscatine for the Kent Stein Park to Deep Lakes Park Trail in Muscatine <link>
  • In a special Jurors’ Choice category, the City of Dubuque for its long-term, big-vision cross-cutting activities. <link>

The press and public are invited to celebrate these “development heroes” at an Award Ceremony, to be held at the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, at 11:45 a.m.

2017 Best Development Award Nominations

Edited Nov. 29, 2017: Thank you for your interest! Nominations closed on Nov 17, 2017. Please join us for the Awards Ceremony.

Everyone is welcome to attend our Awards Ceremony to celebrate our winners — Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. A light lunch will be served at the beautiful Capitol Rotunda beforehand.

Want to do more to help? Volunteer to set up and tear down by sending email to awards@1000friendsofiowa.org