MidAmerican's bid to crush small solar creates strange lobbying bedfellows

MidAmerican Energy’s effort to crush small-scale solar generation made it through the Iowa legislature’s first “funnel” and will be eligible for floor debate in both chambers. The House Commerce Committee on March 4 approved House Study Bill 185 (now renamed House File 669) without amendment on a party-line 12 to 10 vote. The Senate Commerce Committee amended the companion Senate Study Bill 1201 before advancing it on March 7.

The bill will likely pass the upper chamber, where Republicans have a 32 to 17 majority. Although Republicans outnumber Democrats by 54 to 46 in the House, and MidAmerican’s political action committee donated to dozens of incumbents’ campaigns last year, getting the solar bill through the lower chamber will be no easy task. A utility-backed bill to undercut energy efficiency programs was one of the heaviest lifts during the 2018 session. Only after several concessions did supporters cobble together 52 Republican votes in the House. The GOP held 59 seats at that time.

More than three dozen corporations, industry groups, or advocacy organizations have lobbyists registered for or against MidAmerican’s solar bill. While it’s not unusual for a high-profile bill to draw that kind of attention, the two camps seeking to persuade legislators on this issue reflect alliances rarely seen at the statehouse.

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Dark money lobbying Iowa legislature on solar bill

A new dark money group is threatening clean energy progress in Iowa. Mark Langgin digs into the social media advertising campaign that emerged a few days ago. -promoted by Laura Belin

Looks like the utilities and electric cooperatives are up to no good. A new “dark money” organization just launched ads on Facebook.

The “REAL” Coalition began advertising on Facebook on March 1, arguing for legislation that would undermine net metering. The REAL Coalition is doing this under the guise of promoting renewable and clean energy.

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New bill is "clear attempt by MidAmerican to monopolize the sun in Iowa"

A new bill backed by MidAmerican Energy would devastate the ability of Iowans to install solar panels for their homes or businesses. House Study Bill 185 would undo a longstanding policy of net metering, which “allows residential and commercial customers who generate their own electricity from solar power to feed electricity they do not use back into the grid.”

Iowans served by monopoly providers MidAmerican or Alliant Energy have been able to use net metering since the 1980s, under rules adopted by the Iowa Utilities Board.

In recent years, MidAmerican has periodically sought to subvert net metering in various ways. Environmental advocates have been concerned the policy would become the next target for Republican lawmakers who destroyed Iowa’s decades-old, successful energy-efficiency programs last year at the behest of utility companies.

State Representative Gary Carlson introduced House Study Bill 185 this morning in his capacity as leader of the Iowa House Commerce Committee. MidAmerican’s lobbyist immediately registered in favor–often a sign that an interest group or company had a hand in writing legislation. The utility’s media relations staff did not respond to an inquiry about why the company is pushing this bill.

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Iowa ranked number 1?

John Clayton picks apart the methods a national magazine used to rank Iowa the “best state to live,” which became a leading Republican campaign talking point. -promoted by Laura Belin

Governor Kim Reynolds megaphoned the U.S. News and World Report ranking of Iowa as number 1 among the 50 states, helping her sputter to victory last November.

Do you think the magazine’s conclusions are based upon valid and reasonable data interpretations? Or are there gaps in the logic or assumptions being made?

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Are Democrats also climate deniers?

Ed Fallon is a former Iowa lawmaker who directs Bold Iowa. He is the author of Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim, a memoir about the 2014 Great March for Climate Action. -promoted by Laura Belin

“The Democrats Are Climate Deniers.” That’s the jarring headline of an article this week in Jacobin that Jon Neiderbach brought to my attention. The sub-heading reads, “If the Democrats really believed the science on climate change, they’d be offering far more radical proposals. We have to make them.”

Sad but true. It’s one thing for a politician to say, “I support the Green New Deal (GND).” But when pushed for specifics, most aren’t on board with GND’s “transition to 100 percent renewable energy within 12 years — the time frame set by the world’s leading climate scientists.”

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