Gov. Reynolds today defended a bill she signed that will scale back energy efficiency programs in Iowa.
Critics say the money available for rebates and retrofits will be cut by as much as two-thirds.
That’s even though the Iowa Energy Plan that Reynolds oversaw championed energy efficiency as an important piece of energy policy.
Reynolds said the final bill was the result of compromise with Republican legislators.
“We said through the energy plan it was not going to be a mandate,” Reynolds said at an outdoor news conference at Camp Dodge. “You had legislators that felt differently on some of these issues.”
Under the new law, the contribution individual ratepayers make to energy efficiency will be capped at 2 percent of the electric or gas bill. Also, customers can now opt out of the program altogether.
Those were not among the recommendations of the working group that came up with the Iowa Energy Plan.
As a result, about $100 million a month will go directly back to utility customers instead of awarded to applicants for home energy audits, home retrofits, and energy efficient appliances.
Members of the working group that came up with the Iowa Energy Plan had urged the governor to veto the bill.
“Why would we want to do this when know that it contradicts every pillar of the Iowa energy plan,” said Amanda Zwanziger at a statehouse news conference before the bill signing. “We know that this is one of the governor’s top priorities.”
Under the new law, $120 million will still be available for energy efficiency projects each year.
“There still is a robust energy efficiency program in place," Reynolds said.
Under the bill, electric and natural gas customers will now know how much of their bill goes to the program, whether or not they take advantage of the rebates.
“It was very important to the legislators that we have transparency,” Reynolds said.