Jurisdiction and Regulatory Authority of the Iowa Utilities Board
The Board's primary regulatory authority is laid out in Iowa Code §§ 474.9 and 476.1 and 199 Iowa Administrative Code Chapters 1 - 45. The Board regulates the rates and services of electric, natural gas, and water utilities, the services of communications utilities, and generally supervises all pipelines and the transmission, sale, and distribution of electrical current.
The Board regulates electricity under Iowa Code chapter 476. It regulates the rates and services of two investor-owned electric companies, MidAmerican Energy Company (MEC) and Interstate Power and Light Company (IPL), a subsidiary of Alliant Energy. Together these companies serve more than 1 million electric customers. Municipal electric utilities are regulated for service and only in matters specified by statute. Rural electric cooperatives (RECs) are regulated for service and have the option of choosing to be regulated for rates. Linn County REC is the only REC that has opted to have the Board set its rates.
The Board has general jurisdiction over gas utilities furnishing natural gas by piped distribution under chapter 476, but does not regulate propane gas. The Board regulates the rates and services of the following four investor-owned gas utilities: MEC, IPL, Black Hills Energy (BHE), and Liberty Utilities. The Board also regulates certain areas of gas service provided by municipal utilities. Gas utilities having fewer than 2,000 customers are subject to separate rate and service regulatory provisions under Iowa Code § 476.1C
The Board has general regulatory authority over two-way, landline telecommunications under chapter 476. The Board regulates only the service, and not the rates, of local service providers in Iowa. In addition, under Iowa Code chapter 476 and 47 U.S.C. § 252 of the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Board has authority to resolve disputes between competitors.
The Board has jurisdiction to hear all complaints regarding any unauthorized change to a telecommunications customer’s account (i.e., slamming and cramming), even if the service in question is deregulated. The Board does not regulate cellular service or cable television service but does issue cable television franchise agreements.
Finally, under chapter 477C, the Board administers a dual party relay service to allow communication-impaired persons to use the telephone. It also administers an equipment distribution program to provide telecommunications devices for the deaf to eligible persons.
The Board regulates the rates and service of one investor-owned water utility, Iowa-American Water Company. The company serves about 63,000 water customers in its Davenport, Clinton, and Dixon districts. The Board does not regulate small or municipally-owned waterworks.
Sewer and Wastewater
During the 2016 Legislation Session, the legislature adopted and the Governor signed a bill granting the Board authority over the rates and service of sewer and wastewater services provided by investor-owned utilities. In FY 2017, the Board will undertake a rulemaking to implement the new law.
The Board’s jurisdiction also includes: certification of electric power generators (chapter 476A); safety and siting authority over electric transmission lines (chapter 478); safety and siting of intrastate natural gas pipelines (chapter 479); inspection of interstate natural gas pipelines on behalf of the Federal Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) (chapter 479A); and the siting of hazardous liquids pipelines (chapter 479B).
In addition to ratemaking and service regulation, the Board has the authority to resolve complaints, approve plans for energy efficiency programs, approve plans for recovery of costs to control emissions from generating facilities, oversee affiliate transactions, and review proposals for reorganization.