Utility bills changing to show how much you pay for energy efficiency program

DES MOINES — The state’s largest utilities will send out bills this month that have a new way of listing what’s known as the “energy efficiency charge.”

MidAmerican Energy spokesman Geoff Greenwood says a change in the law led to the change in the way the charge shows up on your bill. “Previously the legislature had forbidden the utilities from separately listing that charge, so that charge was bundled into the energy rate charge,” according to Greenwood. “Now effective in your January bill — you will see a new charge called the energy efficiency charge.”

Greenwood says any state-regulated utility has to make the change on the bill. He says there is also going to be a change in the amount you pay for the energy efficiency charge. “We expect that MidAmerican energy customers will save approximately $81 a year for residential gas and electric customers on the energy efficiency charges. That’s because the legislature enacted a law that establishes a cap on energy efficiency spending,” Greenwood says.

The legislation limits energy efficiency program spending at 2% for electric and 1.5% for natural gas. The money from the plans is used for things like rebates when you buy a new more energy efficient appliance or new insulation. Greenwood says the way the money is spent now could be different for each utility.

“Each regulated utility had to submit its own proposed plan, and the Iowa Utilities Board has to rule on each regulated utilities proposed energy efficiency plan by March 31st,” Greenwood says. Greenwood says they types of things the money is spent on will be changing with the new plan awaiting approval by the Utilities Board.

The bill passed the Iowa Legislature after extensive debate. Critics said the cap on the program is too low and many customers cannot afford energy efficiency measures in their homes and businesses without the rebates.