Republicans in the Iowa Senate have ratified a plan that will limit energy efficiency programs run by Iowa utilities, reducing annual charges on gas and electric bills in Iowa by an estimated $100 million.
Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, predicted many of the 20,000 Iowans who work in the energy efficiency industry will lose their jobs if the governor signs the bill into law.
“So this is a big economic issue and, unfortunately, the bill in front of us is bad for jobs, bad for clean energy jobs and bad for consumers,” Hogg said.
Senator Michael Breitbach, a Republican from Strawberry Point, said an estimated $150 million worth of rebates and energy efficiency incentives will still be handed out annually by Iowa electric and gas utilities.
“You talk like the energy efficiency programs are going to completely go away, they’re not going to exist,” Breitbach said. “…They’re still going to pay them if they’ve got an older home to replace their windows with more energy efficient windows. They’re still going to save if they get insulation in their attic.”
The bill passed the House early Friday morning and Republican senators sent it to the governor last night. Supporters say the energy efficiency programs utility companies run in Iowa will be more closely scrutinized. Critics predict utility rates will rise as efforts to reduce energy use are reduced.
In mid-March, Governor Reynolds was asked if she supported the kind of changes in Iowa utility regulations that her fellow Republicans in the legislature were considering, but Reynolds said she wouldn’t comment until she saw the bill in its final form.