Press Release

Iowa Environmental Groups Urge End to Misleading Renewable Verification Program

The IUB should rescind the rules and avoid providing any legitimacy to deceptive utility practices.

Des Moines – The Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and Iowa Environmental Council (IEC) filed comments today calling on the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) to rescind its Renewable Energy Verification rules. Initially adopted in 2017, these rules have not kept up with changing clean energy goals, and utilities regularly use the rules to mislead the public.

Originally, the rules’ purpose was to provide independent verification of renewable energy goals based on percentage targets. The IUB’s own analysis indicates that the rules currently fail to provide the intended benefit of independent verification. Rather, the IUB recites information generated from third parties without engaging in an independent verification and review.

Further, as clean energy goals have evolved to include 24/7 100% renewable energy and other round-the-clock targets, the current verification rules are completely inadequate for those goals.

Importantly, MidAmerican Energy, a Des Moines-based utility that serves nearly two-thirds of Iowans, has made misleading claims under these rules. For example, a September 2023 press release touts that MidAmerican served its Iowa customers with 100% renewable energy. This statement violated the rule requirement for specific claim language. Additionally, the claim obscures the fact that MidAmerican operates five coal plants in Iowa and owns the majority share in a sixth, making its claims deceptive to the public.

The IUB should rescind the rules and avoid providing any legitimacy to deceptive utility practices.

Josh Mandelbaum, ELPC Senior Attorney, said:

“The IUB had good intentions with the 2017 verification program, but clean energy goals have quickly outpaced these rules. MidAmerican’s use of the verification rule misleads the public about its renewable energy usage while it continues to operate one of the largest coal fleets in the country. Even claims that comply with the current rule are misleading to the public when they obscure the amount of coal generation being used by Iowa utilities. The rules need to be rescinded so that the Board no longer provides the cover of legitimacy for statements that mislead the public about Iowa energy generation.”

Michael Schmidt, IEC Staff Attorney, said:

“When a utility makes a claim about providing a renewable energy percentage, its customers expect the claim to reflect the overall mix of generation. The rules have let the utilities hide their troublesome coal fleet and rescinding the rules is the best approach today. Going forward, we need transparent communication and plans from utilities about their coal plants, which cost Iowans money and contribute to local health problems.”

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