The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) today issued its final decision and order approving MidAmerican Energy Company’s (MidAmerican) application for advance ratemaking principles regarding its proposed Wind PRIME project. MidAmerican’s estimated $3.9 billion project consists of up to 2,042 megawatts (MW) of new wind generation and up to 50 MW of solar generation in Iowa. [View the order.]
MidAmerican filed its application for determination of ratemaking principles on January 19, 2022, and a non-unanimous settlement on December 2, 2022, seeking 12 ratemaking principles under Iowa Code § 476.53. Under Iowa law and the IUB rules at 199 Iowa Administrative Code chapter 41, the IUB is authorized to approve advance ratemaking principles for alternate energy production facilities that will apply when such facilities are included in rates paid by customers. Today’s order approved 11 ratemaking principles. A comprehensive description of principles is attached to the order.
Under Iowa Code § 476.53, the IUB must make four overall findings to support the granting of advance ratemaking principles: (1) the application must address qualifying facilities under the statute, (2) the facilities must be needed in the context of sufficient quantity of generation for reliable long-term electric supply, (3) the utility must have an IUB-approved energy efficiency plan in place, and (4) the IUB must determine that the proposed facilities are reasonable when compared to other feasible alternative sources of supply to meet the identified need.
MidAmerican’s primary rationale for Wind PRIME is that there is an economic benefit because the assets can be constructed at no net cost to ratepayers. Today’s order requires MidAmerican to verify the no net cost proposition by filing reports about the status of customer rate mitigation annually on February 15 in a regulatory account in Docket No. RPU-2023-0156. The amounts in the regulatory account will accrue until the end of the Wind PRIME project unless earlier addressed by the IUB in a general rate case.
Today’s order also denies the proposed non-unanimous settlement agreement filed by MidAmerican; the Office of Consumer Advocate, a division of the Iowa Department of Justice; and the Iowa Business Energy Coalition. The other parties to this docket, Google LLC; Meta Platforms, Inc.; Microsoft Corporation; Environmental Law and Policy Center; Iowa Environmental Council; Sierra Club; Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities; Interstate Power and Light Company, a subsidiary of Alliant Energy; and the Iowa Business for Clean Energy, were not parties to the proposed settlement. The IUB reviewed the proposed settlement and objections to it, then conducted a public evidentiary hearing from February 20-24, 2023.
Documents regarding MidAmerican’s Wind PRIME project are available for review in the IUB’s electronic filing system under Docket No. RPU-2022-0001.