State and Local Policy Database


State Scorecard Rank



24.0Scored out of 50Updated 9/2016
State Government
Score: 3.5 out of 7
State Government Summary List All

Iowa runs two revolving loan programs and one grant program for consumer energy efficiency investments. The state government leads by example by requiring energy-efficient public buildings and regularly benchmarking their energy use, however, it does not allow energy savings performance contracting. Two research and development institutions focus on energy efficiency within the state.

Financial Incentives List All

Financial Incentive information for Iowa is provided by the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE Iowa) and State Energy Office contacts. Information about additional incentives not present on DSIRE is listed here.

Technology Demonstration and Education GrantsIowa makes grants available for technology demonstration projects, including eligible energy efficiency technologies.

Last Updated: July 2016

Building Energy Disclosure List All

There is no disclosure policy in place.

Last Updated: July 2016

Public Building Requirements List All

In 2009 Governor Culver issued Executive Order 20, which requires all state buildings to conduct energy efficiency retrofits. In addition, state owned buildings are required to meet or exceed high energy efficiency performance standards

In 2014, the State Energy Office and the Department of Public Safety began the process of updating the Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) guidelines for the state. Iowa Code requires an LCCA review of the energy equipment installed in a public building in the following cases: The Code of Iowa requires “… a public agency responsible for the construction or renovation of a facility shall… include as a design criterion the requirement that a life cycle cost analysis be conducted for the facility.” The LCCA requirements promote energy efficiency in public buildings by accounting for reduced operational costs for energy efficient systems. The guidelines for the analytical procedures that comprise the review were updated in 2014 and have been approved by the 2015 legislature. 

With funding from the US DOE State Energy Program Competitive Grant as well as significant cost share provided the Iowa State Energy Office and Iowa Energy Center, Iowa continues Phase II of its public building benchmarking database. With the given database, buildings that show high potential for energy savings and Return on Investment are being targeted for energy efficiency installations to bring their energy usage in line with other buildings throughout the state.  The Energy Office does this by holding one-on-one meetings, either via phone call or in-person to inform the building users on their data and energy usage and potential for savings.

The purpose of the project is to use the Benchmarking platform as a decision making tool and rank-order building candidates that will benefit from energy efficiency projects based on ROI.

State of Iowa is also enrolled in the Better Buildings Challenge program offered through the US Department of Energy and has committed 17 million square feet under the program. 

Last Updated: July 2016

Fleets List All

No policy in place or proposed

Note: For state efficient fleet initiatives, policies listed must make a specific, mandatory requirement for increasing state fleet efficiency. State alternative-fuel vehicle procurement requirements that give a voluntary option to count efficient vehicles are thus not included.

Last Updated: July 2016

Energy Savings Performance Contracting List All

Iowa’s code 473.19 sets an energy fund to develop or identify guidelines and model energy techniques for the completion of energy analyses for state agencies, political subdivisions of the state, school districts, area education agencies, community colleges, and nonprofit organizations. This also provides technical assistance for conducting or evaluating energy analyses for state agencies, political subdivisions of the state, school districts, area education agencies, community colleges, and nonprofit organizations. The purpose is to provide alternative financing under the energy loan program for the state, state agencies, political subdivisions of the state, school districts, area education agencies, community colleges, and nonprofit organizations to implement energy management improvements or energy analyses.

The current loan program is established in a way that loan repayments are tied to the payback periods of the projects undertaken thereby enabling the energy savings to pay off the loans. Iowa does not allow performance contracting.

Last Updated: July 2016

Research & Development List All

The Iowa Energy Center strives to advance efficiency and renewable energy within the state through research and development while providing a model for the state to decrease its dependence on imported fuels. The Energy Center's main office is located in Ames, Iowa near Iowa State University, the administrator for the Energy Center. The Energy Center also maintains the Energy Resource Station at the Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa, and the BECON (Biomass Energy Conversion) Facility in Nevada, Iowa. The Iowa Energy Center receives its funding from an annual assessment on the gross intrastate revenues of all gas and electric utilities in Iowa.The Center offers a Competitive Grant Program that awards funds to Iowa-based nonprofit groups to conduct energy-related research, demonstration and education projects. Projects under this program range in size and complexity. They are conducted throughout the state by researchers at Iowa’s major universities, colleges, community colleges and at nonprofit energy organizations and community-based educational groups.

The state also partners with private companies for research and development of energy-efficient technologies through the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA). IEDA offers a variety of programs to Iowa businesses for energy efficiency-related research and development investment. These programs include a research activities credit program, a Demonstration Fund program, and the Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund. Through IEDA, Iowa supports $2 million in research activities in small and medium-sized companies as well as technology transfer and commercialization efforts.

Last Updated: July 2016

Score: 6 out of 7
Buildings Summary List All

Both residential and commercial construction must comply with 2012 IECC standards, the latter with reference to ASHRAE 90.1-2010. The Iowa Department of Public Safety has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Iowa State Energy Office to adopt and enforce the building codes. Iowa is a hybrid home rule state, meaning there are three statewide codes: the 2012 IECC, 2012 IMC, and 2011 NEC. The 2012 IECC is adopted as a statewide code and does not need adoption by local jurisdictions, however, jurisdictions may adopt codes more stringent than the statewide code. The state has completed many activities to ensure code compliance, including training and outreach and compliance studies. Utilities are involved in code compliance efforts.

Residential Codes List All

The Iowa State Energy code is mandatory statewide for residential buildings, although jurisdictions are free to adopt stricter codes. As of March 2014, residential buildings must comply with the 2012 IECC, with state-specific amendments. The state is in the process of holding public meetings to adopt the 2015 IECC.

Last Updated: June 2016

Commercial Code List All

The Iowa State Energy code is mandatory statewide for commercial buildings, although jurisdictions are free to adopt stricter codes. As of March 2014, commercial buildings must comply with the 2012 IECC, with reference to ASHRAE 90.1 – 2010 with state-specific amendments. The state is in the process of holding public meetings to adopt the 2015 IECC.

Last Updated: June 2016

Compliance List All
  • Gap Analysis/Strategic Compliance Plan: In 2012 the State worked with Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL) to produce the Iowa Compliance Implementation and Evaluation Guide. The Guide is designed to assist the State and Local Code Jurisdictions in achieving statewide compliance with the 2009 International Energy Conservation code for residential and commercial buildings.
  • Baseline & Updated Compliance Studies: The DOE Residential Energy Code Pilot Study for Iowa was completed in June of 2011. The Iowa compliance rate was 64% in climate zone 6 and 70% in climate zone 5.
  • Utility Involvement: Alliant Energy, Cedar Falls Utilities and MidAmerican Energy have for the past two years sponsored day long training events targeting residential contractors, architects, real-estate professionals and appraisers. Each year the training happens in eight different locations around the state. IPL also offers a Builder Training Program. The utilities cannot count education toward their energy efficiency impacts at this time.
  • Stakeholder Advisory Group: The Building Codes Advisory Council is a Governor-appointed group that decides when and how the state building codes are adopted and if amendments are required. An Energy Codes Workgroup was invited to discuss the 2012 IECC and suggest amendments to allow advancement to this code. The Workgroup had thirty participants from all aspects of the construction of commercial and residential buildings.The group meets as needed and will convene for two meetings in 2015.
  • Training/Outreach: The State Energy Engineer hosts a number of seminars each year for code officials, architects, engineers and contractors. Group requests for educational seminars are never turned down and have been done for the American Institute of Architects to the International Association of Electrical Inspectors. The State Building Code Bureau has teamed up with the state investor-owned utilities, the Iowa Association of Building Officials and the Iowa Association for Energy Efficiency to provide training throughout the state.

Last Updated: July 2015

Score: 1.5 out of 4
CHP Summary List All

Iowa has an interconnection standard that applies to CHP, but otherwise has limited policies to encourage CHP. One new CHP system was installed in 2015.

Interconnection StandardsList All

Policy: Iowa Interconnection Standard

Description: In Iowa, rate regulated utilities include only the state's two investor-owned utilities, MidAmerican Energy and Interstate Power and Light (IPL), and Linn County Rural Electric Cooperative. Iowa's detailed interconnection standards apply to distributed generation facilities of up to 10 megawatts (MW). The definition of a distributed generation facility includes qualifying facilities (QFs) under PURPAand alternative energy production (AEP) facilities as defined by Iowalaw. The rules are contained in IAC § 199-45 adopted by the IUB in May 2010. Like many recent interconnection regulation adoptions in other states, the Iowa rules set four levels of review for interconnection requests.

Last Updated: June 2016

Encouraging CHP as a ResourceList All

There are currently no state policies designed to acquire energy savings from CHP (like other efficiency resources) or energy generation from CHP (in terms of kWh production) that apply to all forms of CHP.

Last Updated: June 2016

Deployment IncentivesList All

No state financial assistance or incentive programs are available for CHP. Some customers in MidAmerican Energy or Alliant Energy service territory may be eligible for rebates, but utility incentives are limited to bottoming cycle waste heat to power (WHP) systems.

Last Updated: July 2016

Additional Supportive PoliciesList All

Some additional supportive policies exist to encourage CHP. Iowa was a participant in the National Governors' Association Policy Academy on CHP in 2012, which resulted in a CHP technical assistance program though the Iowa State Energy Office. Activities include targeted outreach events, workshops, presentations, and the development of a CHP resource guide. The Combined Heat and Power Resource Guide for Iowa provides permitting guidance, a contact directory, summary of financial incentives, and links to additional resources.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority has funded the development of Iowa Biogas Assessment Model, which is a tool that can be useful in developing CHP projects by identifying opportunities for biogas fuel inputs. With an abundance of biomass in the state, using biogas as a CHP feedstock may make the economics of certain projects more attractive.

Last Updated: June 2016

Score: 10 out of 20
Utilities Summary List All

Iowa's utilities administer energy efficiency programs under a regulated structure with oversight by the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) and significant input from the Office of Consumer Advocate. Iowa Code 476.6.16 mandates that electric and natural gas utilities that are required to be rate-regulated (investor-owned utilities or IOUs) must offercost-effective energy efficiency programs. Energy efficiency plans filed by municipal utilities and electric cooperatives include voluntary goals. The utilities recover program costs of the plans approved by the IUB through tariff riders on customer bills.

Iowa's utilities have long records of funding and providing comprehensive portfolios of energy efficiency programs to all major customer categories — residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural. Funding levels have been strong throughout the years, with a notable decrease in the late 1990s as the state considered restructuring proposals. Since the early 2000s, the state has renewed and increased its commitment to energy efficiency programs. 

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Last updated: August 2015

Customer Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Iowa's energy utilities administer energy efficiency programs for their customers. State law requires regulated utilities to provide such programs. Most publicly owned utilities in Iowa (municipal utilities), as well as rural electric cooperatives, provide energy efficiency programs, ensuring nearly statewide coverage.

Regulated investor-owned utilities recover costs of programs approved by the Iowa Utilities Board via adding tariff riders to customer bills. This is an automatic rate pass-through, reconciled annually to prevent over-recovery or under-recovery. Recently-filed utility plans indicate an increasing level of funding for, and commitment to, energy efficiency. The IUB is authorized to conduct prudence reviews of IOU energy efficiency and may disallow imprudent costs. 

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Last Updated: July 2015

Energy Efficiency as a Resource List All

Iowa's investor-owned utilities are required to prepare and implement energy efficiency plans. The Iowa Utilities Board approves the plans. Key features of all the plans and programs approved for IOUs by the IUB include:

  • Plans must be cost-effective; four different cost-effectiveness tests are assessed and applied; of these, the societal cost test is the primary determinant of cost-effectiveness.
  • Plans must include programs for all types of customers.
  • Plans must include analysis of the potential for energy efficiency and must include performance standards in terms of energy and capacity savings.

Iowa's municipally owned utilities and rural electric cooperatives must also develop energy efficiency plans and submit both progress and final reports to the IUB. The IUB does not review or approve these plans, but compiles the results to use as part of overall state energy planning. Senate File 2386, signed in 2008, requires the IUB to report periodically to the General Assembly on the plans and results of IOU energy efficiency programs.

Last Updated: July 2015

Energy Efficiency Resource Standards List All

Summary: Targets vary by utility, with average incremental electricity savings of 1.2% per year and natural gas savings between 0.7% and 1.2% of retail sales for the 2014-2018 planning period.

Senate Bill 2386, passed in 2008, requires the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) to develop energy savings performance standards for each regulated electric and natural gas utility, which must file plans to meet those goals cost-effectively.  Utilities that are not regulated (i.e., municipal utilities and rural cooperatives) are also required to set energy efficiency savings goals, but their plans are not reviewed or approved by the IUB. 

In compliance with this law, the IUB issued an order for investor-owned utilities to submit energy efficiency plans with a yearly incremental savings goal for both electricity and natural gas of 1.5% of average retail sales over the previous three years, to be met by December 31, 2011 (Docket No. 199 IAC 35.4). Iowa’s two investor-owned electric utilities, Interstate Power and Light Company (IPL) and MidAmerican Energy Company, complied with this request by filing Energy Efficiency Plans for 2009-2013 that outline how the utilities could meet the 1.5% electric target (Docket No. EEP-08-2Docket No. EEP-08-1 ). Both utilities determined the 1.5% natural gas target would be unattainable.

MidAmerican filed plans to meet the 1.5% electric goal. The IUB declined to approve a slightly lower electric goal for IPL due to potential rate impacts on IPL customers. Both IPL and MidAmerican’s goals represent levels of electric savings around twice the levels achieved in 2008. Municipal and cooperative utilities also are required to implement energy efficiency programs, set energy savings goals, create plans to achieve those goals, and report to the IUB on progress. Municipal and co-operative utilities filed goals on December 31, 2009.

For the 2014-2018 planning period, both IPL and MidAmerican found savings goals limited by the state's cost cap. Both utilities set goals of about 1.2% incremental savings per year over this four year period. (See Docket No. EEP-2012-002 and EEP-2012-0001)

Iowa’s natural gas utilities also set annual energy efficiency savings targets for the period between 2014 and 2018. These goals vary by utility, set at about 1.2% per year (MidAmerican), 0.9% per year (IPL), and 0.7% per year (Black Hills).

Last Updated: July 2015

Utility Business Model List All

On December 18, 2006, the Iowa Utilities Board examined the possibility of decoupling profits from sales revenue for their natural gas utilities. The Board did not require utilities to decouple, but concluded that individual utilities may apply for automatic adjustment mechanisms or other rate design changes on a case by case basis. (Iowa Docket No. NOI-06-1).

There is currently no policy in place that rewards successful energy efficiency programs.  

Last Updated: July 2015

Evaluation, Measurement, & Verification List All
  • Cost-effectiveness test(s) used: SCT,  UCT, PCT, RIM
  • Uses a deemed savings database: no

The evaluation of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs in Iowa relies on both legislative mandates Iowa Code §476.6(16) and regulatory orders (Iowa Administrative Code 199—35.13(476)). Evaluations are administered by the utilities. There are no specific legal requirements for these evaluations in Iowa. Evaluations are conducted statewide and for each of the utilities. Iowa uses four of the five classic benefit-cost tests identified in the California Standard Practice Manual. These are the Utility/Programs Administrator (UCT), Participant (PCT), Social Cost (SCT), and Ratepayer Impact Measure (RIM). The rules for benefit-cost tests are stated in Iowa Code §476.6(14)and IAC 199—35.8(2). Iowa specifies the SCT to be its primary cost-effectiveness test. These benefit-cost tests are required for overall portfolio, total program, customer project, and individual measure level screening, with exceptions for low-income programs, pilots, and new technologies. The Settlement Agreements for each of the recently approved EEP dockets (EEP-2012-0001, EEP-2012-0002 and EEP-2013-0001) contain a plan for EM&V for the 2014-2018 plan cycle.

Last Updated: July 2015

Guidelines for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Requirements for State and Utility Support of Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

Senate Bill 2386, passed in 2008, directed natural gas and electric municipal and rural electric cooperative utilities to establish energy efficiency goals. Though no specific set aside was identified for low-income customers, Black Hills Energy, Mid-American Energy Company, Liberty Utilities, and Interstate Power and Light all provide a variety of weatherization measures for low-income customers.

Cost-Effectiveness Rules for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

According to IAC 199 - 35.8(2), “Low-income and tree-planting programs shall not be tested for cost-effectiveness, unless the utility wishes to present the results of cost-effectiveness tests for informational purposes.”

Coordination of Ratepayer-Funded Low-Income Programs with WAP Services

The Iowa Division of Community Action Agencies (DCAA), in coordination with investor-owned utilities, conducts and publishes an annual evaluation of the Iowa Weatherization Program. The performance assessment is used to determine technical assistance and training needs.

Last updated: April 2017

Self Direct and Opt-Out Programs List All

Iowa does not have self direct or opt-out programs. 

Last updated: July 2016

Data AccessList All

Iowa has no policy in place that requires utilities to release energy use data to customers or third parties. 

Last Updated: July 2015 

Score: 3 out of 10
Transportation Summary List All

Iowa integrates transportation and land use planning, and 4% of the fees for new vehicle registration support public transportation.

Tailpipe Emission Standards List All

No policy in place or proposed.

Last Updated: July 2015

Transportation System Efficiency List All

Transportation and Land use Integration: The state of Iowa enacted S.F. 2389 in April 2010. The bill requires state agencies and local governments that undertake land-use planning and resource management to plan for future growth so as to promote increased energy efficiency and the location of new and existing developments near transportation hubs. As a result, state, municipal and inter-agency coordination is required.

VMT Targets: No policy in place or proposed.

Complete Streets: No policy in place or proposed.

MAP 21 Freight Plans and Goals: No policy in place or proposed.

Last Updated: July 2015

Transit Funding List All

The Iowa State Transit Assistance Program devotes 4% of the fees for new registration collected on sales of motor vehicle and accessory equipment to support public transportation.

Last Updated: July 2015

Incentives for High-Efficiency Vehicles List All

No policy in place or proposed.

Last Updated: July 2015

Appliance Standards
Score: 0 out of 2
Appliance Standards Summary List All

Iowa has not set appliance standards beyond those required by the federal government.

Last Updated: July 2016