As one of the nation’s leading producers of wind energy, Iowa has abundant — but also sporadic — energy resources. State officials see huge potential for batteries to help make the most of its wind and solar generation, and they hope to test it with a new grant-funded project.
Iowans will lose access to home energy audits, insulation rebates, and light bulb discounts under new five-year efficiency plans proposed by utilities. The plans, filed with the Iowa Utilities Board before a Monday, July 9, deadline, are the first since a new state law capped the amount of money that utilities spend on the programs. The result is a huge step back for energy efficiency in the state, according to clean energy advocates. MidAmerican Energy and Interstate Power & Light, an Alliant Energy subsidiary, emphasized the bill reductions most customers will see under the plans, but critics predicted those cuts will eventually be absorbed by the cost of new investments to meet growing energy use in the state. “These plans are significantly smaller and leave significant energy-efficiency savings on the table, even more than in the past,” said Josh Mandelbaum, an attorney for the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Des Moines. MidAmerican Energy is proposing to spend $257 million between 2019-2023 on programs estimated to save 898 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and nearly 8.3 million therms of natural gas.
One of Iowa’s two major utilities wants to spend – and charge its customers – nearly $1 billion over the next several years to modernize its grid, and advocates want to ensure that money is spent wisely.