Thursday, March 7, 2013

Feed In Tariff bill Passed Out Of Senate Ag Committee!

A feed in tariff bill passed the IA Senate Ag committee this week. SSB1234 , authored by Senator Joe Seng, is eligible for a floor vote. If passed by the legislature, this bill would result in a significant amount of newly installed wind energy owned by farmers and Iowans, and jobs for rural Iowa. This is one of the best rural economic development bills taken up by the legislature in years.  

    Its future is uncertain as the Senate floor leader will most likely be under extreme pressure by Iowa utility lobbyists to prevent a floor vote. A similar bill was introduced in the 2007 Iowa legislature. It had huge bipartisan support, as 33 of 50 senators were cosponsors of the bill, including the senate floor leader, Micheal Gronstal. The bill advanced from committee and was scheduled for a floor vote. Just before the vote, the bill was pulled from the schedule and reassigned to a Senate Ways and Means subcommittee chaired by Senator Rob Hogg, where the bill eventually died. This is a fine example of the amount of influence the utility lobby wields at the legislature. They were able to stop a bill that seemed almost certain to pass, supported by most Senators and Representatives.  Iowa missed out on a huge opportunity for jobs, rural economic development, and renewable energy owned by Iowans. Yes, I’m deliberately repeating myself a bit.
Since then, every bill that attempts to help Iowans get a fair price their electricity sales has died in subcommittee, fiercely opposed by the utilities. It will be interesting to see if the Iowa Senate once again fails to support a renewable energy bill that helps Iowa farmers and citizens install distributed wind generation. They may once again bypass addressing the regulatory changes needed, and instead pass tax credits or other incentives in order give the appearance of a small victory for distributed Generation.  In closing, another excellent feed in tariff bill with bipartisan support, SF315 , which includes solar and biomass facilities, was introduced to the Senate commerce committee, and appears unlikely to be discussed before the funnel deadline for bills to pass out of committee this year.   

Stay tuned,
Better yet, call your legislator to voice support for these efforts.                               

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