Iowa Utilities Board Seeks Winter Weather Plans from Utility Providers

Ice on electrical utility pole and power line from freezing rain. Concept of winter storm and power outage.

Photo: JJ Gouin / iStock / Getty Images

(Des Moines, IA) -- The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) is looking for winter weather plans from Iowa's electric utility providers. The plans are in response to rolling blackouts across the Southern United States during winter storm URI in February of 2021, which caused outages in a portion of western Iowa.

"The load shed, a temporary shutdown made to avoid system failure, affected some parts of western Iowa and jeopardized the reliability of the North American bulk power system," says Don Tormey, Director of Communications for the Iowa Utilities Board, in an emailed statement. "The impact of wide-area extreme weather events has underscored the need to consider scenarios for resource planning." He also says the goal is to make sure plans are in place to avoid any rolling blackouts.

The order seeking the plans asks utility providers a series of 13 questions, including what energy prices are expected to be at and whether or not the provider has available generators.

Volume 199 of the Iowa Administrative Code requires rate-regulated utilities, such as MidAmerican Energy and Alliant Energy, to have plans for notifying customers in the event of a peak demand. According to Tormey, the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities and the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives will likely also file material with the IUB docket over winter weather plans. Plans are also collected in advance to the summer season, when hot temperatures can cause times of peak load.

All of the utilities are invited to a meeting session about their winter strategies at the IUB headquarters in Des Moines on November 28th.

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