Consumer Information Energy Telecommunications
Elizabeth S. Jacobs
Nick Wagner
Board Member
Sheila K. Tipton
Board Member

Jurisdiction and Regulatory Authority of the Iowa Utilities Board

The Utilities Board, as stated in Iowa Code §§ 476 through 479B, 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 the rates and services of two investor-owned electric companies, MidAmerican Energy Company (MEC) and Interstate Power and Light Company (IPL), which is the utility subsidiary of Alliant Energy Company serving Iowa.  Together these companies serve more than 1 million electric customers.  Municipal electric utilities are regulated 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 large investor-owned gas utilities:  MEC, IPL, Black Hills Energy, and Liberty Energy (Midstates) Corporation d/b/a 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.  Although, it does not regulate cellular service or cable television service, in December 2007, new rules went into effect to implement a new law providing the Board authority to issue cable television franchise agreements.  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 inter-utility disputes between competitors. Finally, 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 also regulates the rates and service of one investor-owned water utility, Iowa-American Water Company.  The company serves about 60,000 water customers in its Davenport and Clinton districts.  The Board does not regulate small or municipally owned waterworks.

Also included in the Board’s jurisdiction is certification of electric power generators (Chapter 476A), granting of franchises for electric transmission lines (Chapter 478), supervision of the transportation or transmission of a solid, liquid, or gas, except water, through intrastate pipelines (Chapter 479), the authority to implement federal regulation of interstate pipelines (Chapter 479A), and the authority to implement certain controls over hazardous liquid pipelines to protect landowners and tenants from environmental or economic damages (Chapter 479B).

In addition to ratemaking and service regulation, the Board has the authority to resolve complaints, enforce safety and engineering standards, 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.

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.