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

On February 24, 1995, the Iowa Utilities Board officially opened Docket No. NOI-95-1, "Inquiry Into Emerging Competition in the Electric Industry." As part of its inquiry, the Board:

  • formed an Advisory Group composed of interested stakeholder and public interest groups;
  • adopted ten principles for the electric utility industry;
  • conducted nine town meetings across the state to educate consumers on electric restructuring;
  • issued three comprehensive staff reports; and
  • adopted an action plan to develop a competitive model that works for Iowa.

In accomplishing the work outlined in its Action Plan, the Board:

  • worked with MidAmerican Energy to develop the Council Bluffs Pilot Project which is designed to allow residential and small commercial customers a choice of electricity provider for a two-year period;

The Council Bluffs Pilot Project began on April 1, 1999. Although several suppliers initially expressed an interest in the pilot, no supplier has been certified to provide service. The Board, in cooperation with MidAmerican Energy and Eos Corporation, developed a customer education plan for the Council Bluffs Pilot.

  • worked with the Iowa Energy Center, the University of Iowa Social Science Institute, and Mary Losch of the Center for Social and Behavioral Research at the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa to conduct two residential and small commercial customer surveys to assess the public’s knowledge of electricity and electric restructuring;

The surveys were conducted at different times; one preceding the Council Bluffs Pilot education program and one after program completion. Both surveys indicated that small customers have little knowledge of their electric service or electric restructuring.

  • worked with the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research to conduct an environmental assessment of electric restructuring;

A draft of the assessment was released to the Board’s Advisory Group in late 1998. Due to comments received from the Advisory Group, the report was never finalized.

  • issued a draft staff report in October 1998 on transition cost/benefit recovery; 
  • issued a draft legislative proposal in December 1998 to the Board’s Advisory Group for comment (much of which was incorporated into the state’s restructuring legislation); and
  • conducted a collaborative modeling effort with the Iowa Office of Consumer Advocate and Iowa’s investor-owned utilities to estimate the market price in a competitive retail market.

Board staff also worked extensively with various groups over a two year period drafting restructuring legislation for consideration by Iowa’s General Assembly in 2000.  The ultimate result of this collaborative effort was HF 2530.  HF 2530 passed-out of the House Commerce Committee in 2000, but was not debated on the floor of the House. Iowa’s General Assembly did not consider restructuring legislation in its 2001 session.

The inquiry was opened, in part, to attempt to answer public policy and jurisdictional issues surrounding potential competition. Since there is no legislation pending to change Iowa's utility structure, the inquiry appears to have served its useful purpose. The Board issued an order closing the docket on April 17, 2001.