A bipartisan group of Iowa lawmakers is pushing back against two utilities’ efforts to increase rates on solar customers.
On Wednesday, Iowa state Rep. Chuck Isenhart submitted a letter to the Iowa Utilities Board in which he and 31 of his House colleagues objected to the rate-design portions of pilot projects conceived by Alliant and MidAmerican Energy.
The two utilities provoked the ire of the state’s clean-energy promoters a month ago when they proposed rate and fee changes that would disadvantage customers that generate some of their own energy. The utilities said the rate changes were aimed at ensuring renewable customers pay their fair share of the utility’s expenses.
The new rate designs were packaged with some more renewable-friendly proposals that both utilities submitted to comply with a directive from the regulator as part of a long-running docket considering state policy towards distributed generation.
The legislators who signed the letter said that they supported the utilities board’s promotion of pilot projects designed to foster more distributed generation in Iowa.
“However,” they wrote, “we are concerned with some aspects of the initial proposed pilot projects. We do not think it appropriate to create a separate rate class for solar/renewable customers as part of these projects.
“Nor do we find it appropriate to experiment with or substantively change net metering policies through pilot rate design. If the pilot projects move in this direction, they will stifle a promising market, prevent Iowa from reaching our potential as a solar leader, and directly contradict the Board’s interest in expanding renewable distributed generation in Iowa.
“We encourage the Board to stay the course and focus on actions that increase renewable generation while continuing to collect data on distributed solar power before considering any policy changes. With a data-driven approach designed to maximize the potential for renewable energy development in Iowa, our future will remain bright.”