Klimesh’s Corner: Let’s talk energy!

By Senator Mike Klimesh

Let’s talk energy! Last year the legislature passed a bill that required the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) to hire an outside consultant and take a deep dive into Iowa’s energy code sections. This is something that hasn’t been looked at in 20 years. The IUB went through a procurement process and hired London Economics International (LEI) to conduct the research and throughout the summer they held three meetings to engage with all levels of stakeholders in the energy sector. The result of these meetings was a 230-page report from LEI giving several recommendations to the legislature. 

I am going to talk about one of their findings and the subject of a bill that I introduced: Integrated Resource Planning or IRP. Iowa is one of a very few states that don’t require IRP or some sort of long-term planning process for its rate-regulated utilities. 

So, what is IRP? IRP is a planning process that requires utilities to go through a short- and long-term planning process for generation, storage, transmission and distribution. This process would outline the utilities’ future plans for all of the above-mentioned categories. The process as proposed would require them to do a five and 20 year look ahead and would require the utilities to share with the IUB what those plans entail. The IUB would then be able to weigh in on whether they felt the proposal would meet the energy needs of Iowans and provide a stable three-legged approach to ensure Iowans have access to adequate, reliable and affordable energy.   

I feel it is incumbent upon us as policy makers to have the ability to have a peek under the hood, if you will, as to how our Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) plan to provide Iowans with all three legs of that stool. We allow our IOUs to operate as a monopoly in the state, so the only way that an Iowan can change their electric provider is to move to another provider’s territory. Along with that, the IOUs can recoup capital investments in their infrastructure through rate cases, so not only are Iowans captive but also essentially collateral. 

SF2244 is a bill I have introduced that would create the framework for an IRP process in Iowa. It requires the utilities to provide the Iowa Utilities Board a look at their short- and long-range planning process and allows the IUB to provide input on those plans and voice their concerns on those plans to ensure they provide adequate, reliable and affordable energy for many years to come.

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