Advocates say Iowa utility’s proposal could lead to fee for solar customers

An Iowa utility that failed earlier this year to impose new constraints on solar customers is making another attempt in its currently pending rate case. Interstate Power & Light has asked the Iowa Utilities Board to allow it to create two new rate classes for “partial requirements” customers — those who generate some of their own energy. The utility has not requested a new rate for solar customers, but clean energy proponents suspect it will be coming if the Iowa Utilities Board approves the proposed new rate classes. In another move that would tend to impinge on efforts to reduce energy use, the utility has asked for a $3 increase in the fixed monthly fee for residential customers. The utility wants to raise the fixed fee by $6.20 for small business customers.

As coal plants close, groups scrutinize plans for more gas-fired generation in Michigan

Plans to build natural gas plants to replace coal-fired generation in Michigan are facing scrutiny from advocates looking to ensure renewable energy and energy efficiency are also being considered. The Michigan Public Service Commission is considering a request by the Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. (UMERC) to build two gas plants totaling 183 megawatts in the Upper Peninsula to replace a 62-year-old coal plant in Marquette. Meanwhile, earlier this month DTE Energy announced plans to build a $989 million, 1,100-MW natural gas-powered combined cycle plant in southeast Michigan near Detroit. While the projects are in different stages of development and are on a vastly different scale, clean energy advocates say there are similarities in determining what comprises Michigan’s future energy mix and how reliant the state will be on natural gas as aging power plants are retired.