Adoption of Solar Bill Paves Way for Renewable Energy Growth in Iowa

posted on Friday, March 13, 2020 in Energy News

Des Moines - Governor Kim Reynolds signed Senate File 583 today, a bill that will provide predictability for Iowa’s solar industry, utilities and customers. The legislation passed both the Iowa House of Representatives and the Iowa Senate unanimously.

The legislation was the result of collaborative discussion between numerous stakeholders, including MidAmerican Energy, the Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association (ISETA), Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA), Iowa Environmental Council (IEC) and the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC).  

“Iowa’s solar industry was proud to collaborate with stakeholders to find a compromise that provides consistency and opportunity for solar energy to continue to grow in Iowa,” said Tim Dwight, President of ISETA. “We thank legislators and the Governor for passing and signing Senate File 583 into law. Solar energy helps diversify Iowa’s energy portfolio and will continue to keep costs low for all energy customers. This legislation ensures that Iowa farmers, small businesses and homeowners will continue to play a role in Iowa’s renewable energy leadership.”

The bill grandfathers all existing customers with their current agreements. 

Farm outside of Garnavillo, Iowa

“This bill provides certainty that helps farmers plan ahead if they want to install solar technology, and it protects the financial interests of those who have already installed solar panels on their buildings,” said Mike Paustian of Walcott. Paustian is president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “Today’s pig farming requires energy resources to provide feed, water and temperature control that are vital to pig comfort and well-being. Many of our members have installed solar panels to help provide that energy while operating in a sustainable way.”

The new policy codifies net metering while creating a new, optional inflow-outflow system. Solar customers taking service under both net metering and the new inflow-outflow system would be able to supply their own energy needs and would receive credit for the energy they supply to the grid while paying for energy delivered by the utility. Each utility has the ability to choose to bill its solar customers based on net metering or an inflow-outflow rate.

“Renewable energy has a long history of bi-partisan support in Iowa and the unanimous passage and Governor’s approval of SF 583 continues that tradition,” said Kerri Johannsen, Energy Program Director for IEC. “This bill will provide the certainty needed for solar to continue to grow in Iowa. We appreciate the work of all involved to develop a policy that will work for both utilities and customers while benefiting Iowa’s economy and environment.”  

The legislation also calls for a Value of Solar study to be created through a stakeholder process overseen by the Iowa Utilities Board and utilizing an independent third party consultant.

“This legislation came out of a unique collaboration where parties came together to find a solution that benefits everyone. That’s exciting on its own, but one of the most exciting aspects of this is the certainty it will provide,” said Environmental Law & Policy Center Senior Attorney Josh Mandelbaum. “Customers will be able to invest with confidence, knowing what the rules are. Solar installers and utilities will be able to plan ahead with assurance. This will lead to job creation and a robust solar market that will continue to grow and thrive.”

The updated energy policy will create long-term certainty for all customers, including solar owners, and enable even more renewable energy development in Iowa.

“This great outcome is the direct result of sincere collaboration. The new law ensures regulated utilities will recover infrastructure costs, which provides predictability to  our customers,” said Adam Wright, president and CEO of MidAmerican Energy. “At the same time, it values solar generation, encourages even more renewable development and helps us keep our customers’ rates low. This is a true win for our state, and we congratulate lawmakers from both parties and the Governor for their hard work in finding common ground.”

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