Iowa Co-op Triples Its Monthly Fee for Distributed Solar
Iowa’s Pella Cooperative Electric is tripling its monthly fee for customer-members who install solar panels or other distributed generation, prompting users to talk about removing solar systems they’ve already installed.
“I think it is unlawful, and I think it’s outrageous compared to any other RECs (rural electric cooperatives) that I know of,” said Pella-area resident Mike Lubberden. “I’m hoping to get them to back down on this $85 charge.”
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Lubberden has dropped plans to install a rooftop solar system, Midwest Energy News reports, “is seeking legal representation, and intends to file a complaint about the matter with the Iowa Utilities Board.” Other users are looking at taking down their panels.
The US$85 “facilities fee,” which Pella announced in a June 18 notice to members, more than triples the previous monthly charge of US$27.50, and is one of the highest in the Midwestern United States, according to Amy Heart of the Alliance for Solar Choice. Pella CEO John Smith told MWEN the cost increase followed a “cost of service” study the co-op conducted “to make sure the cost-causer is the cost-payer.”
MWEN notes that “utilities and co-ops around the country are seeking to increase flat fees that are assessed on customers’ bills, saying ratepayers who generate their own power aren’t covering their share of the costs of maintaining the grid. Advocates say this approach fails to account for the full value of distributed solar.”