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IUB Opens Electric Transmission Docket

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa Utilities Board is working on updating its plan for electricity transmission.

In July of 2021, the Iowa Utiltities Board or “IUB” issued an order opening an investigation into a “Comprehensive Statewide Plan for Iowa’s Transmission Grid of the Future,” which requested comments from various parties.

The investigation and a subsequent workshop were a part of the review of the IUB’s statutory authority and responsibility with regard to electric transmission planning in Iowa. During the workshop discussion, the IUB explored how and to what extent utilities identify an overall plan ― not just for themselves, but for the entire state of Iowa ― and to discuss what the role of the Utilities Board is in overseeing and evaluating the overall plan.

The IUB and its staff have been reviewing the statutes, IUB rules, and authority for both generation and transmission in Iowa. The statutes were written at a time when coal and natural gas facilities were the norm and were last updated in the late 1970s, prior to the emergence of renewable electric generation.

The IUB tells us that there are several goals for the INU transmission investigation docket, including:

· Reviewing the statutory requirements set out in Iowa Code for all new and extension franchises issued by the IUB on transmission projects
· Clarifying landowner and the general public’s knowledge, transparency, and involvement in the process as it relates to their property interests
· Providing transparency to county and municipal governments on generation and transmission projects planned across the state
· Providing knowledge and transparency on related generation and transmission projects; transmission owners currently seek eminent domain after many years of work on a particular route or corridor with limited updates or transparency to the local official, landowners or tenants
· Understanding Iowa authority and the State of Iowa’s overall Plan as required for transmission franchise dockets under chapter 478 of the Iowa Code.

The IUB says Iowa’s transmission owners have the best information available to support the necessary findings the legislature has required of the IUB. Additionally, transmission owners have the best information available to respond to landowner concerns, avoid any appearance of a lack of planning, and prepare for future growth, which involves coordination efforts from the industry and the IUB.

IUB officials say it’s imperative that all parties involved need to have an understanding of what the “overall plan” refers to in Iowa Code. The IUB looks forward to working with industry and stakeholders.

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