State and Local Policy Database


State Scorecard Rank



17.0Scored out of 50Updated 10/2018
State Government
Score: 1.5 out of 5
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. 

Last Updated: July 2018

Building Energy Disclosure List All

There is no disclosure policy in place.

Last Updated: July 2018

Public Building Requirements List All

All public buildings are required to comply with the 2012 IECC code.

Iowa Code requires a life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) review of the energy equipment installed public agencies responsible for the construction or renovation of their facilities. 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 2016.

Iowa continues Phase II of its public building benchmarking database (B3) with assistance and support from MidAmerican Energy, Alliant Energy, The Iowa Energy Center, The Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, and the IEDA Energy Office. B3 helps target and offer assistance to buildings with high potential for energy savings and return on investment. The database also provides users with opportunities for peer collaboration and one-on-one training.

Last Updated: July 2018

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 2018

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 2018

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. In late 2017, administration of the Iowa Energy Center program was transferred to the state energy office at Iowa Economic Development Authority. 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 has historically offered 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 ranged in size and complexity and were 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 program is currently undergoing revision and will resume sponsoring eligible projects in mid-2018. The legislative-defined mission of the Iowa Energy Center at the Iowa Economic Development Authority is to support implementation activities of the Iowa Energy Plan, of which energy efficiency was one of the four foundational pillars.

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.

The University of Northern Iowa's Center for Energy and Environmental Education (CEEE) helps children, youth, and adults make sense of complex environmental and energy-related issues while finding ways for the community to participate in positive, solution-oriented responses. The CEEE creates opportunities for UNI students and faculty to take leadership roles in creating more sustainable communities, and brings diverse stakeholders together to find common ground while working to solve problems.

Last Updated: June 2018

Score: 5 out of 8
Buildings Summary List All

In Iowa, the commercial Energy Code is the 2012 IECC with ASHRAE 90.1 2010 allowed by reference. The residential Energy Code is the IECC 2012 with Iowa specific amendments. Iowa is a hybrid home rule state, meaning there are four statewide codes, the IECC 2012, IMC 2015, IFC 2015 and the NEC 2017. The IECC 2012 is adopted as a statewide code and does not need adoption by the local jurisdictions as it is a state code/law. Jurisdictions are permitted to adopt codes more stringent than the state code. There are jurisdictions that have adopted the IECC 2015. 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. 

Last Updated: July 2018

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.

Last Updated: July 2018

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. Iowa also finalized the State Energy Plan in December 2016. The plan can be accessed at
  • 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: No regulatory guidelines have been established with regard to involving utilities in supporting building energy code compliance, though some IOUs volunteer to do residential builder training at the beginning of each year.
  • 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 2018. In 2017, two meetings were held.
  • Training/Outreach: The State Energy Code Engineer provides training programs for Contractors and Code Officials in an annual basis as well as through special requests. Each year the investor-owned utilities sponsor residential builder training, the State Energy Code Engineer conducts training for each of these four events across the state. The balance of training was done for Residential/Commercial Contractors and Code Officials. Any HBA group or jurisdiction can request a training event be held in their area; no requests have been denied.

Last Updated: June 2018

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. No new CHP systems were installed in 2017.

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 PURPA and alternative energy production (AEP) facilities as defined by Iowa law. The rules are contained in IAC § 199-45 adopted by the IUB in January 2017. Like many recent interconnection regulation adoptions in other states, the Iowa rules set four levels of review for interconnection requests.

Last Updated: July 2018

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: July 2018

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 2018

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.

Iowa code 567 IAC 22.1(2) allows permitting exceptions for some CHP systems, including natural gas-fired units less than 10 mmBTU/hr and units less than 1 mmBtu/hr powered by coal, fuel oil, untreated wood, untreated seeds or pellets, or other untreated vegetative materials. 

Last Updated: July 2018

Score: 7 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 offer cost-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. However, in July 2018, utilities filed new plans with savings 25-50% lower than in the prior period and a bill signed on May 4, 2018 allows customers to request an exemption from electric energy efficiency plans if the electric utility's RIM test is less than one.

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 2018

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 2018

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. Plans must be cost-effective. The Iowa Utilities Board uses five cost-effectiveness tests. Of these, the total resource cost test is the primary determinant of cost-effectiveness. Plans must include programs for all types of customers, analysis of the potential for energy efficiency and performance standards in terms of energy and capacity savings.

Last Updated: July 2018

Energy Efficiency Resource Standards List All

Summary: For the 2014-2018 planning period, targets varied 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.  In July 2018, utilities filed new plans with savings 25-50% lower. 

Senate File 2386, passed in 2008, requires utilities that are not rate regulated (i.e., municipal utilities and rural cooperatives) to set energy efficiency savings goals, but their plans are not reviewed or approved by the IUB.

For the 2014-2018 planning period, both IPL and MidAmerican set goals of about 1.2% incremental savings per year over this five year period (see Docket No. EEP-2012-0001 and EEP-2012-0002, respectively). 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 for MidAmerican (Docket No. EEP-2012-0002), 0.9% per year for IPL (Docket No. EEP-2012-0001), and 0.7% per year for Black Hills (Docket No. EEP-2013-0001).

In July 2018, utilities filed new plans with savings 25-50% lower than in the prior period, in Docket No.s EEP-2018-0001, EEP-2018-0002, EEP-2018-0003.

Last Updated: July 2018

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 it 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 2018

Evaluation, Measurement, & Verification List All
  • Primary cost-effectiveness test(s) used: societal cost test  

  • Secondary cost-effectiveness test(s) used: utility cost test, participant cost test, total resource cost test, and ratepayer impact measure

The evaluation of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs in Iowa relies on regulatory orders (Iowa Administrative Code 199—35.5(2) (f)(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(13) and IAC 199—35.8(2). Iowa specifies the SCT to be its primary cost-effectiveness test. 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.

According to the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), Iowa relies on the Societal Cost Test (SCT) and considers it to be its primary cost-effectiveness test.  However, Iowa rate-regulated utility customers may opt out of the five-year energy efficiency plan if a program does not pass the RIM test. Iowa’s SCT accounts for non-energy benefits such as asset value, natural gas savings, and appliance water savings. Iowa also accounts for avoided environmental costs. Low-income programs do not need to pass a cost-effectiveness test.

Further information on cost-effectiveness screening practices for Iowa is available in the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), a resource of the National Efficiency Screening Project (NESP). Further information on health and environmental benefits is available in ACEEE’s Overview of State Approaches to Account for Health and Environmental Benefits of Energy Efficiency.

Last Updated: May 2019

Guidelines for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs List All

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

Iowa Code 476.6 (13 and 476.6 (15) require that the investor-owned utilities' energy efficiency plans include programs for low-income customers but does not require a specific level of spending.

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

IPL, Black Hills Energy, and MidAmerican Energy jointly implement the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) through the Iowa Utility Association (IUA). The utilities contribute program funding through the Iowa Department of Human Rights (DHR). These funds reimburse Community Action Program (CAP) agencies for the costs of performing energy assessments and purchasing and installing qualifying energy efficiency measures in residences occupied by low-income families. WAP is available to homeowners and renters whose income level is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Homes occupied by the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and families with children under the age of six are prioritized for weatherization assistance, as are households with high usage. CAP agencies market and deliver the program to low-income customers, and the DHR's Division of Community Action Agencies (DCAA) administers the program.

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.

Please refer to the utilities' energy efficiency reports filed in Docket Nos. EEP-2012-0001, EEP-2012-0002, EEP-2013-0001, and EEP-2016-0002.

Last updated: July 2018

Self Direct and Opt-Out Programs List All

SF2311 signed by Governor Reynolds on May 4, 2018 allows customers to request an exemption if the electric utility's RIM test is less than one. The exemption applies only to electric energy efficiency, not demand response or natural gas efficiency. "The board shall allow a customer of an electric utility that is required to be rate-regulated to request an exemption from participation in any five-year energy efficiency plan offered by an electric utility if the energy efficiency plan and demand response plan, at the time of approval by the board have a cumulative rate-payer impact test result of less than one. "

Last updated: July 2018

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 2018

Score: 2 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 2018

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.

FAST Freight Plans and Goals: Iowa has a state freight plan that identifies a multimodal freight network, but it does not include freight energy or greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Last Updated: July 2018

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 2018

Incentives for High-Efficiency Vehicles List All

No policy in place or proposed.

Last Updated: July 2018

Equitable Access to TransportationList All
Iowa does not have any state programs in place to incentivize the creation of low-income housing near transit facilities, nor does it consider the proximity of transit facilities when distributing federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to qualifying property owners. Last Updated: July 2018
Appliance Standards
Score: 0 out of 3
Appliance Standards Summary List All

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

Last Reviewed: June 2019