Green Groups Challenge Iowa Utility Efficiency Plans

AlliantEnvironmental groups are challenging the conservation plans of Iowa’s largest energy providers, reports the Associated Press.

Iowa law requires that gas and electricity utilities submit energy efficiency plans every five years. The law also allows other groups to challenge those plans.

Interstate Power and Light, a division of Alliant Energy, has seen its plan – which proposes saving 12 million therms of natural gas over five years – challenged by the Environmental Law and Policy Center, the Iowa Environmental Council and the Iowa Policy Project. The groups argue that, before the utility is granted permission to construct a $750 million power plant in the state, it should reduce electricity demand as much as possible, the AP reports.

Josh Mandelbaum, an attorney for the ELPC, told the AP that contemplating building a large power station is the time to be “most aggressive” with energy efficiency efforts. The groups want IPL to pay more to encourage customers to buy energy efficient appliances and other energy saving products.

IPL’s proposed plan costs $399 million – a price that would be passed onto the consumer. The utility says that the groups’ demands would up its costs more than $1 billion. Mandelbaum told the AP that that figure was inflated.

MidAmerican Energy – Iowa’s largest energy provider – has proposed saving 1.1 kWh of electricity and 22 million therms of natural gas over five years. The utility expects its plan to cost $512 million. Testimony from witnesses from environmental groups have suggested that MidAmerican should double its energy efficiency budget, the AP reports. A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 28.

In July, Mississippi approved Energy Efficiency and Conservation Rule 29, requiring electric and gas utilities to implement energy efficiency programs and standards under the Commission’s service jurisdiction. rule requires electric and gas utilities serving more than 25,000 customers to file Quick Start Plans with the Commission within six months. Quick Start Plans would include items such as customer education programs, energy audits and evaluations, rebates or other incentives on high-efficiency appliances, retrofitting homes and methods small businesses and industrial facilities can optimize energy efficiency.

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