On-site (Distributed) Generation

On-site, customer-owned electric generation installations, such as solar, wind, or biomass, have become increasingly popular in Iowa.  Many of these facilities are connected to the electric grid which involves the local utility provider.  The Iowa Utilities Board (Board) has regulatory authority over the investor-owned utilities but has limited authority (service, safety, and engineering issues) for the municipal electric and rural electric cooperative utilities in Iowa.

The Board's Consumer Informational Guide for On-Site Generation was developed to help residential or small businesses who are considering installing electric generation on their property.  The guide also includes links to additional information which may be useful to make an informed decision about installing on-site generation.  The Iowa Energy Center developed a Solar PV Energy Guide to help residential or small businesses who are specifically interested in solar installations.

Interconnection

The Board has rules related to interconnection of on-site generation facilities.  The Board’s standards for interconnection, safety and operating reliability are found in 199 IAC chapter 15 and are applicable to all utilities.  These rules are being reviewed and the Board has initiated a rulemaking docket RMU-2016-0006.

Additionally, the Board’s rules for Electric Interconnection of Distributed Generation facilities are found in 199 IAC chapter 45 and are applicable to those utilities subject to rate regulation by the Board (such as MidAmerican Energy Company and Interstate Power and Light Company). These rules were recently updated.  (See Docket No. RMU-2016-0003.)

The chapter 45 rules previously contained standard forms and agreements used by applicants in the interconnection application process.  These forms and agreements have been removed from the rules but have been updated to allow the applicant to fill in the forms electronically.  Following are links to the interconnection forms and agreements:

​Net Metering

The Board’s rules for net metering are found in 199 IAC 15.11(5).  In Docket No. NOI-2014-0001, the Board evaluated possible revisions to the net metering rule but concluded that there was not enough information to make permanent changes to the rule.  However, the Board ordered MidAmerican Energy Company (Docket No. TF-2016-0323) and Interstate Power and Light Company (Docket No. TF-2016-0321) to file new tariffs for net metering which would change net metering policy on a temporary basis (3 years). Based on the Board’s order, the tariffs will increase the size cap of net metered facilities from 500 kW to 1 MW.  Also, customers under the new tariffs will no longer be allowed to roll forward their excess generation indefinitely.  The excess generation will be cashed out on an annual basis. After the 3-year period, the Board will determine whether the changes should be made permanent and whether rule changes are needed.

Combined Heat and Power

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) is a type of distributed generation used mainly in commercial, industrial, or institutional applications. Iowa has a very diverse manufacturing base, which creates both challenges and opportunities for combined heat and power.

For more information on CHP, please refer to the Iowa Economic Development Authority CHP Web page and the CHP including a CHP Resource Guide.