Iowa’s electric cooperatives applaud the legislators who voted for passage of Senate File 2311, an energy bill that has several sections beneficial to cooperative member-owners, especially regarding affordability. Furthermore, we want to applaud Governor Reynolds for not believing the distortions of truth surrounding the bill, and instead, signing the bill into law.
Many myths hovered around this energy bill. This bill does not eliminate electric cooperatives’ commitment to renewable energy or our successful energy efficiency programs that were in practice decades before state government mandated energy efficiency programs.
Plain and simple, this bill provides much-needed regulatory parity and clarity for electric cooperatives. As a not-for-profit electricity provider, we’re in business solely to serve our member-owners with safe, reliable and affordable power. We operate with a business model that is grounded in local control and local governance for those who receive service from their electric co-op.
The energy efficiency sections of SF 2311 have gained a great deal attention. To be clear, nothing in this bill changes the requirement that Iowa’s electric cooperatives will offer energy efficiency programs. As part of these offerings, it will allow us to ensure these programs are cost-effective – meaning that our member-owners aren’t footing the bill for a program that isn’t financially responsible. The legislation also eliminates time-consuming and duplicative reporting to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB), which will save our employees valuable time and resources that could be directed into further serving our member-owners.
Make no mistake, providing robust energy efficiency programs and services has long been the foundation of Iowa’s electric cooperatives’ commitment to environmental stewardship. During the past 10 years alone, we have invested more than $120 million in energy efficiency measures, saving at least 6 billion kilowatt-hours. The bill signed into law by Governor Reynolds does not lessen our commitment to energy efficiency.
Our dedication to the environment doesn’t stop with energy efficiency. Through investments in renewable energy, a reduction in the use of transportation fuels and innovations in technology, we take pride in the areas we call home and strive to maintain the integrity of the land's most precious resources. While this legislation doesn’t impact our relationship with residential and business installations of wind and solar, Iowa’s electric co-ops recognize our role in harnessing power that is generated by our members. We will continue to look for ways to ensure that all members served by the cooperative benefit from renewable energy production.
The energy landscape has dramatically changed in the past 30 years, leading to more federal rules, regulations and mandates. When there are comprehensive federal policies in place, additional state mandates quickly become duplicative and unnecessary. This bill will require the IUB to consider existing federal regulations before establishing similar state mandates. Again, this is beneficial for keeping our business operations efficient and affordable for member-owners.
Reliable and affordable energy is something most people can agree is right for their fellow Iowans. Many of the provisions in SF 2311 allow rural Iowans to be treated just like those who are served by a municipal utility. Governor Reynolds’ signature on this bill means electric cooperative member-owners will have the opportunity for rate stabilization and energy affordability well into the future.
Steve Seidl, president of the board of directors for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.