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Evaluation of Energy Efficiency Policy

Electric cooperatives across Iowa have established robust, cost-effective, energy efficiency programs to help their member-owners use energy wisely. To ensure that those programs remain valuable to the consumers, the utility, and the environment, they must be evaluated regularly.

Photo of a man and woman sitting at a table discussing rebate programs.
NIPCO Members like Harrison County REC promote energy efficiency programs outlined in NIPCO policies. (Photo: Harrison County REC)

The program offerings and energy efficiency goals offered by Iowa cooperatives are tailored to the local energy needs of each electric cooperative’s member-owners. The electric markets served by the Iowa rural electric cooperatives differ from co-op to co-op and are different from markets served by other electric utilities, such as investor-owned utilities. It is essential to continue to evaluate rebate programs to ensure that they are feasible, meet consumer demand, and do not cost so much to administer that non-participating rate-payers are subsidizing the energy efficiency measures.

NIPCO’s first energy efficiency plan, implemented in 2009, included distributing energy efficiency kits and compact fluorescent light bulbs by NIPCO’s member systems to their members. Other programs encouraged adding insulation and other energy-saving measures. Over time, more programs were added as consumer behavior shifted, appliances and lighting became more efficient, and innovative energy-saving technologies emerged.

Every five years following that initial study, NIPCO partners and cost-shares energy efficiency studies with neighboring generation and transmission (G&T) cooperatives Corn Belt Power and L&O Power Cooperative. In 2024, efforts are underway to re-evaluate the programs once again.

The joint energy efficiency studies are commissioned to define and refine existing energy efficiency goals and programs and to identify any new programs that should be considered. The decision to participate in the studies as a joint effort is supported by the fact that all three G&Ts share the same primary power supplier (Basin Electric Power Cooperative), have contiguous service territories and serve member-consumers with similar energy needs.

C.H. Guernsey, an Oklahoma City engineering consulting firm, was hired to perform the analysis in the 2014 and 2019 studies and will serve again in this capacity for 2024.

How the studies work

Close-up stock photo of a man holding a piece of paper showing statistical data.
The Iowa Technical Resource Manual provides a consistent basis for evaluating energy-efficiency measures.

Each energy efficiency measure is subjected to a series of tests to quantify its value. Additionally, the basis for the energy-efficiency calculations is the Iowa Technical Reference Manual (TRM), a highly complex system of metrics recognized by the Iowa Utilities Board to provide consistency across Iowa electric utilities to evaluate energy efficiency programs. While many of NIPCO’s energy efficiency programs will remain the same or undergo minor adjustments.

Since 2013, Iowa’s electric co-ops have invested nearly $170 million in energy efficiency measures, avoiding approximately 5.7 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of usage. That’s enough to power more than 537,000 homes for a full year. Closer to home, member-consumers in the NIPCO system took advantage of energy efficiency programs in 2023, avoiding more than 2.8 million kWh of usage, enough to power nearly 269 homes!

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