The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Feed-in Tariff Breakthrough in Iowa?

Could the conservative heartland sate of Iowa breach the dam holding back feed-in tariffs for renewable energy in the US when self-styled "progressive" states such as California continue to dawdle? That is the possible implication of a vote by the Agriculture Committee of Iowa's state Senate Thursday, 7 March 2013.

Political observers and the media often overlook mid-western states in deference to presumably more trendsetting states on the west coast. However, many  of the progressive movements in US history have grown out of grassroots campaigns in the nation’s heartland. The same could be true for feed-in tariffs.

The bill, SSB 1234, has a long ways to go should it ever become law, and the odds against it, as in most other states, are very long as powerful forces begin aligning against it. Nevertheless, the bill now moves to the Senate floor.

Significantly, the bill passed the Agriculture Committee unanimously. That is, the bill not only received the support of Democrats in the Democratically controlled chamber, but also support by Republicans on the committee. This bodes well for at least consideration by the Republican controlled House should the bill pass the Senate.

In another departure for much of the current discussion across the country and in particular on proposals for feed-in tariffs, SSB 1234 is not about solar photovoltaics. No, the bill is aimed at distributed wind energy and is limited to projects less than 20 MW.

Iowa knows a lot about wind energy and it is comfortable with the technology. In 2012, Iowa produced 24.5 percent of generation by in-state wind energy, far more than the one-time leader California’s 5 percent. Even in absolute numbers, Iowa’s 14 TWh of wind generation exceeded that of California’s 10 TWh in 2012.

However, nearly all wind energy in Iowa is found in large wind power plants developed by multinational utility companies. Only a very small percentage of Iowa’s wind generation is produced by small, distributed projects and even less is owned by Iowans themselves.

The bill allows distributed wind projects to account for one-half of the annual growth in residential electricity consumption. One estimate is that this could be up to 60 MW per year. If true, Iowa’s proposal is four times greater than the much heralded, some would say over hyped, feed-in tariff program of Los Angeles’ Department of Water & Power that is limited to 20 MW per year.

Iowa’s SSB 1234 is a milestone in renewable policy proposals in the US since Tea Party reactionaries seized legislatures across the country in 2010. As one activist suggested, this could finally be a sign of brightening fortunes for feed-in tariffs.

Unlike advocates in other states, where solar only bills monopolize feed-in tariff discussion, renewable proponents in Iowa are more inclusive. Proponents of SSB 1234 hope to add biomass and solar once the bill reaches the floor of the Senate.

One of the bill’s key features is using the connecting utility’s regulated rate of return in calculating the tariff that would be paid under the standard offer contract. Renewable advocates have long proposed that distributed or locally-owned renewables should be paid a tariff that includes calculation of a rate of return equal to that granted electric utilities. In most countries and in most proposals in North America, however, regulators use a much lower rate of return for investment in distributed renewables than the utilities receive themselves. Sometimes the return acceptable to regulators for distributed renewables is half that received by regulated utilities.

Summary of Key Features

Program cap: ½ of annual retail electricity consumption growth

Project cap: 20 MW

Geographic limit: only on agricultural land

Interconnection: mandatory for utilities

Tariff determination: based on cost to utility, inclusive of the utility’s regulated rate of return

Contract term: 10 years

Review: biannual

Note: The Bill has been renumbered: SF 372.

SF 372 Contents

SF 372 Bill History

Lead image: Iowa sign via Shutterstock

Untitled Document

RELATED ARTICLES

Global Renewable Energy Roundup: China, Kenya, Turkey, India Seeking More Renewables

Bloomberg News Editors China is being encouraged by three industry groups to double the nation’s solar-power goal for 2020 to make up for sh...

With Vast Amounts of Geothermal, Wind and Hydropower, Why No Solar In New Zealand?

James Ellsmoor, Contributor New Zealand has built an international brand on environmentalism and the great outdoors. So it is unsurprising that t...

GE low wind turbines make debut in France

Kelvin Ross

A new wind farm in France will be the first in the country to deploy GE’s 2.75-120 wind turbines.

Unlikely Allies in North Carolina Clean-Energy Fight

Mark Drajem, Bloomberg With North Carolina’s renewable energy mandate under assault from Republican legislators, green groups seeking to sav...

PRESS RELEASES

Intersolar AWARD „Solar Projects in India“ – Applications being accepted until September 18

The Intersolar AWARD in the category Solar Projects in India honors projects in the fie...

New local energy partnership brings innovative solar tracker to Washington State

A new partnership will bring the innovative AllEarth Solar Tracker solar electric syste...

Solar Frontier's CIS Modules Are Selected For 26 MW Project In North Carolina

Solar Frontier supplies its advanced solar module technology, CIS, for a 26 MW project ...

20 days to GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo

The Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) has announced that it is only 20 days to go to t...

FEATURED BLOGS

Cronimet / THEnergy study: In solar for mines size does not always matter - Reducing CAPEX with energy efficiency and load shifting

Munich, September 2015. Mining companies are constantly gaining interest in solar solutions because frequently solar ...

Shedding Some Light on a Taxing Situation for Community-Shared Solar

For renters and for property owners with inadequate roof space, the many benefits of solar electricity may seem out o...

NATiVE Recognized for Excellence at 2015 Greater Austin Business Awards

NATiVE Recognized for Excellence at 2015 Greater Austin Business Awards NEWS RELEASE AUSTIN, Texas – Aug. 27...

Solar Energy Means Jobs, Savings, and a Low-Cost Future [infographic]

There are a lot of utility-sponsored legislative and regulatory attacks on solar energy lately, and we put together t...

FINANCIAL NEWS

Paul Gipe has written extensively about renewable energy for both the popular and trade press. He has also lectured widely on wind energy and how to minimize its impact on the environment and the communities of which it is a part. For his efforts,...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 4
1507REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

Doing Business in South Africa – in partnership with GWEC, the Glob...

Wind Energy in South Africa has been expanding dramatically, growing fro...

Intersolar India 2015

Exhibition and Conference: November 18-20, 2015 Intersolar India 2015 I...

Intersolar North America 2016

Exhibition: July 12 - 14, 2016; Conference: July 11 - 13, 2016 Intersola...

COMPANY BLOGS

Less Is More

When you’re giving a presentation, one of the easiest things to do...

Captivology

One of the biggest challenges we face as efficiency sales professionals ...

How To Optimize Your Meeting Schedule

Do you spend more time in meetings than you do actually working? While m...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS