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Iowa Utilities Board: Adopts rules to encourage more small wind energy development

The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) has adopted rules to encourage the development of more small wind generation systems across Iowa and help the state continue to be a leader in renewable energy. The rules are for a State program to simplify and encourage small wind generation systems (100 Kilowatts or less nameplate capacity) being interconnected with electric utilities, through the establishment of small wind innovation zone designations in political subdivisions.

The new program stems from House File 810 enacted by the Iowa Legislature in 2009. In March 2010, a model ordinance for establishing an expedited local government approval process for small wind generation systems was completed by the Iowa League of Cities, the Iowa State Association of Counties, the Iowa Environmental Council, the Iowa Wind Energy Association, and representatives from the utility industry.

To be designated as a small wind innovation zone, a political subdivision (including but not limited to a city, county, township, school district, community college, area education agency, institution under control of the State Board of Regents, or any other local commission, association, or tribal council) must either adopt or be within the boundaries of a local government that adopts the model ordinance.

In addition, an area seeking designation as a small wind innovation zone must be served by an electric utility that uses the model interconnection agreements developed in a previous rule making (RMU-2009-0008 “Electric Interconnection of Distributed Generation Facilities”). The interconnection rules are mandatory for rate-regulated electric utilities serving Iowa such as MidAmerican Energy Company and Alliant Energy/Interstate Power and Light Company and voluntary for utilities that are not rate-regulated by the Board such as municipal utilities and most rural electric cooperatives.

House File 810 and the Board’s new rules are intended to encourage cities, counties, and other political subdivisions in the state to adopt the model ordinance for small wind energy systems, expediting local approval processes.

The new rules also create a new eligibility category under Iowa’s renewable energy tax credit program (Iowa Code Chapter 476C), for the owners of small wind generation systems that operate in small wind innovation zones. Under Iowa Code Chapter 476C, a state production tax credit of 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour is available for energy sold by eligible wind generation facilities.

A complete summary of the oral and written comments in this rule making, along with staff recommendations, is available through the IUB’s electronic filing system (EFS), http://efs.iowa.gov. Today’s Board order (Docket No. RMU-2009-0010) is also available on EFS, https://efs.iowa.gov/efiling/groups/external/documents/docket/044688.pdf.