The Iowa Utilities Board recently reviewed its rules for people who produce their own electricity.
IUB spokesman Don Tormey says it involves a process known as “net metering.” “When customers generate their own electricity, any electricity that the customer generates that they do not use is exported to the utility grid. And under net metering, the customer’s extra generation is credited to his or her account and is used to offset the customer’s future electricity use,” Tormey explains.
Proposed new rules would expand the size of operations that can feed electricity back into the grid. He says it now allows larger facilities to participate as they increased it from 500 kilowatts to one megawatt. The rules cover the state’s two largest utility companies and the IUB has asked them to write new tariffs for customers hooking up to the grid. Those tariffs will implement temporary, yet specific changes, and become effective for a three-year period once they are approved by the IUB.
He says the board ordered MidAmerican and Alliant Energy’s subsidiary Iowa Power and Light to file new tariffs on or before August 15th, and once the board receive those, they will have to review and approve them.
Tormey says they don’t know the exact number of people who are creating their own energy with the chance to feed the excess back to the power companies, but it is probably around 1,500 or more. “There’s even customers who are off the grid that attempt to do that,” Tormey says. “You know people who live in real remote areas that have attempted to do solar panels and storage batteries and things like that.” He expects more people to look at creating their own energy either from wind or solar.
“It would be a mixture of both, but I would anticipate it might be more solar,” Tormey says. Experts in the field says the cost of solar panels has been coming down as technology improves and more people are looking at using them. You can find out more about net metering on the IUB’s website.
(Note: This story was updated to indicate the rules are being reviewed and final rules have not yet been approved.)