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Iowa net billing victory

An attempt to repeal Iowa's net billing rule was soundly defeated March 17 as the Iowa Utilities Board withdrew the proposal in the face of strong public opposition and the state Senate voted 42-0 in favour of net billing legislation. Net billing is fundamental to small scale wind power development and allows customers who generate their own electricity from renewables to run their meters backwards when output exceeds demand, thereby offsetting the excess power against buying it from the grid at retail rates. The attempt to ban net billing was met by massive opposition (Windpower Monthly, February 1998). The bill will not be heard in the House before the end of the session, so will not become law this year. Though the rule remains in place, the bill would make net billing less subject to challenge. Spirit Lake Community Schools, which has one wind turbine operating under a net billing arrangement with IES Utilities, has planned for over a year to add a second. "We haven't been able to move ahead with our second wind project, because our utility says they won't agree to it as long as the situation with net billing is uncertain," reports Harold Overmann, the school superintendent.

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