Overview: Iowa has considered customer
choice options for many years. In October 1997, the Iowa Utilities Board
(Board) adopted rules that gave utilities the option to file tariffs to implement
unbundled service to small customers, including residential customers. All
utilities in the State filed plans in late 1998, but the plans were quite
diverse. Several workshops were conducted, but there was still
disagreement among utilities, marketers, and consumer advocates as to how
to proceed. In March 2000, the Board dismissed the unbundling plans,
determining that they either moved too slowly or too quickly in opening
the residential market to competition. Instead, the Board ordered each
utility to propose tariff changes that "remove the primary barriers to
providing a competitive option for small-volume customers interested in
transporting gas." In its order, the Board also noted that some of the
issues raised during the workshop process might need to be resolved
through legislation. All the utilities filed new unbundling draft tariffs
in November 2000.
In July 2003, the Board decided that
implementation of a small-volume gas transportation plan would no longer
be in the public interest because of significant industry changes. Instead
the Board initiated (October 2003) an inquiry that focused on ways to
limit price risk for small-volume customers. At a workshop held in July
2004, discussions centered on fixed-bill alternatives and proposals to
modify rules and tariffs to give small-volume customers the same options
as large-volume customers. In a separate proceeding in August 2004, the
Board approved expansions of MidAmerican Energy Company’s (MidAmerican) and Interstate
Power and Light Company’s (IGL) pilot small-volume transportation programs,
which had been in place since 1997, to include participation by
governmental entities with predictable heat-sensitive loads, in addition
to the schools and community colleges that were already eligible.
In November 2007, the Board directed MidAmerican and IGL to file proposed permanent small-volume transportation tariffs to replace the pilots, and both companies did so in December 2007. The Board approved IGL's proposed permanent tariff (revised in March 2008) in April 2008, to become effective on May 1, 2008. Under this tariff, transportation service is available to all small-volume customers except residential customers, with the number of customers capped at 500 on a first-come, first-served basis. Customers must remain on the service for 1 year, and will be charged a switching fee when returning to system gas. The Board approved MidAmerican's proposed permanent tariff in November 2008, after rejecting (June 2008) the company's initial proposal because of capacity assignment issues. The approved tariff makes transportation service available to small-volume customers who purchase natural gas that is transported by an interstate pipeline company on a firm basis and who comply with MidAmerican's administrative terms. The Board capped the number of customers who can use this service at 2,500 to reduce the risk of capacity problems on MidAmerican's system. The proposed switching fee was waived for pilot program customers who move to the new permanent service during the period from December 1, 2008, through April 30, 2009, when the pilot program ends.
marketers operating in the State must be certified by the Iowa Utilities Board.
According to rules adopted in February 2001, applicants seeking certification to serve small-volume customers must demonstrate
that they have the operational and financial capability to deliver the services they propose to offer. Certified marketers must file an annual report
giving the number of small and large customers served each month, total
sales to small- and large-volume users, and revenues collected. As of
December 2008, three marketers were certified to provide service to small-volume users.
|Regulatory and Legislative Actions|
||The Governor signed the Power Fund Policy Bill (HF 918), which establishes the Office of Energy Independence. The Office is charged with developing options and strategies for reducing Iowa’s consumption of energy, dependence on foreign sources of energy, use of fossil fuels, and greenhouse gas emissions. It also directs the Iowa Utilities Board to conduct a study of energy efficiency plans and programs offered by all natural gas and electric utilities to determine the status and effectiveness of such programs. Results of the study should be made to the General Assembly by January 1, 2008.
||Competitive natural gas provider certificate canceled for the Joint Utility Management
Program (IJUMP, Inc.), which provided gas aggregation service to participating school
boards as part of the small-volume transportation pilot programs.
The Iowa Utilities Board approves MidAmerican
Energy Company's proposed permanent small-volume transportation tariff to replace pilot program. MidAmerican calls the service a "Monthly Metered Transportation Service," which is available to firm customers whose usage does not exceed 2,000 therms per day. The service is initially capped at 2,500 customers, with enrollment to be phased in at 450 customers a month beginning on December 1, 2008, and ending in April 2009 in conjunction with the expiration of the small-volume gas transportation pilot program. The proposed switching fee is waived for current pilot program customers who move to the new permanent service during this period. Annual rate updates and filings associated with the service shall be made on July 1 of each year beginning in 2009.
||Seminole Energy Services, LLC certified to provide competitive natural gas services to both small- and large-volume customers in Iowa.
The Board approves Interstate Power and Light Company's (IGL) proposed small-volume transportation tariff (revised March 2008) to replace pilot program. The provisions are only slightly different from the pilot program's. Service will be available to customers whose usage does not exceed 25,000 therms in any billing month or 100,000 therms in a consecutive 12-month period. IPL agreed to grandfather four existing customers who would not be eligible under this usage limit. These customers will have the option of taking service under the new permanent tariff, under the existing transportation tariff, or returning to system service. The number of customers will be capped at 500, on a first-come first-served basis. Balancing will be on a billing month basis and IPL will charge $47 per month per metering point for nomination and dispatching. Customers must remain on the service for 1 year, and will be charged a $500 switching fee when returning to system gas.
||As directed by the Iowa General Assembly, The Board released a report to the legislature titled The Status of Energy Efficiency Programs in Iowa, which details the energy efficiency plans and programs of Iowa utilities. It also issued a report detailing the results of a 2007 survey of Iowa residential utility customers. The reports indicate the need for more advanced development of energy efficiency programs. The utilities' new energy efficiency plans, due to be filed in late spring of 2008, are to include developing and analyzing a scenario for increasing energy savings to a level of 1.5 percent of retail energy sales by the year 2012.
||The Board directed MidAmerican and IGL to Propose Permanent Small-Volume Transportation Tariffs to Replace Pilots. The tariffs are to be filed by December 31, 2007, with an effective date of April 30, 2008. The tariffs are to be available to all small-volume customers except residential customers and may include a cap on the number of participants.
||In compliance with the Power Fund Policy Plan (HF-918) legislation, the Board initiated a formal inquiry that directed all utilities in
Iowa to provide information on their energy efficiency programs and results for
calendar year 2006.
||The Board approved
settlement regarding small-volume transportation tariffs for MidAmerican
Agreement reached by the Iowa Joint Utility Management Program, the
Consumer Advocate, MidAmerican, and IPL that expands the
availability of pilot small-volume transportation programs to State
and local governments with heat-sensitive predictable loads. IPL's
pilot continues through August 1, 2007, and the utility has the
right to stop enrolling new customers at each anniversary date.
Customers can return to system supply for a $50 fee (rather than
$500) if notification occurs between May 1 and July 1 or at an
agreed-upon date prior to November 1. MidAmerican's pilot will run
from September 1, 2004, through August 31, 2007, with similar terms
as IPL's. An administrative charge cap of $0.25 per dekatherm (Dth)
will continue through the pilot period and be trued-up
annually. The administrative charge for the first year will be $0.08
per Dth. The two utilities must respond annually to 10 information
requirements during the pilot, which include the number of eligible
customers, participation levels, names of participating marketers
and numbers they serve, comparison of monthly pilot delivery prices
vs. prices of system supply, program costs, problems encountered,
and program evaluation.
scheduled (July 1, 2004) on bill risk management. Issues to be
discussed include: definition of small-volume customers, types and
variety of risk reduction options, energy efficiency and
conservation components, and hedging.
||New inquiry into
bill risk management. A marketer and municipality requested
reopening of the small-volume transportation docket. Instead, the
Board opened a more directed inquiry that would focus on ways to
limit price risk for small-volume customers.
||Docket closed regarding
small-volume gas transportation rules. Board decided
implementation of a small-volume gas transportation plan would no
longer be in the public interest, citing significant industry
Nicor Energy's request to discontinue service. Board granted
Nicor Energy's request to surrender its certificate to operate as a
competitive natural gas provider (CNGP) in the State. Effective
April 1, Nicor had either assigned its customers to another CNGP or
terminated the contracts.|