Environmental Groups React to IUB Approval of MidAmerican Energy Efficiency Plan
on Thursday, February 21, 2019
Budgets and savings slashed as a result of 2018 Legislation
Des Moines, Iowa -- The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) on Monday issued an order approving MidAmerican Energy’s five-year energy efficiency plan with few modifications. The approval of MidAmerican’s plan is the end result of Senate File 2311, legislation passed by the Iowa Legislature in 2018 that severely restricted what the IUB could require utilities to spend on programs to help customers reduce energy usage.
MidAmerican’s approved plan will result in 44% less electric savings than their previous plan and 77% less natural gas savings. This is while the company’s own assessment of potential for energy efficiency showed probably savings of 17% over the next decade.
In response to the IUB’s approval of MidAmerican’s plan, IEC’s Energy Program Director Kerri Johannsen stated, “Senate File 2311 decimated Iowa’s nation-leading energy efficiency programs that saved customers hundreds of millions of dollars in avoided new generation, not to mention the savings on individual customer bills. SF2311, and the inadequate plan that resulted from it, will lead to rising electricity rates for MidAmerican customers.”
In 2018, 20,000 Iowans held jobs in the energy efficiency sector including HVAC, electrical, and insulation contractors, energy auditors, retailers, and manufacturers of energy efficient equipment. An email survey of Iowa energy efficiency contractors conducted between December 4, 2018, and January 4, 2019, by The Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology at Iowa State University on behalf of the Iowa Environmental Council offered a preview of the negative impacts these industries will experience.
Even before MidAmerican’s plans were approved, 19% of surveyed businesses reported they had already conducted layoffs and 23% reported skilled workers leaving their company due to industry uncertainty. When asked to look ahead to when the new plans would roll out, more than 74% of respondents said they expect SF 2311 to hurt their business. More than half expect the cuts to result in layoffs over the next six to 12 months.
In addition to job losses, Iowa’s ranking in the annual Association for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) fell more than any other state in 2018 following passage of the bill, putting Iowa at 24th in the nation. As recently as 2015, Iowa’s ranking stood at 12th in the nation.
“The IUB’s approval of MidAmerican’s plan is disappointing, but not surprising. SF 2311 tied the hands of the Board, Consumer Advocate, and stakeholders while severely reducing access to energy efficiency programs,” stated Josh Mandelbaum, Senior Attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “This bill was a jobs killer as we will see even more clearly as MidAmerican begins to implement their approved plan.”