“Legislation to dramatically reduce energy efficiency programs financed by utility customers passed the Iowa Senate on Monday night after a heated debate between Republicans and Democrats on whether the measure will help or hurt Iowa consumers.

Senate File 2311 was approved 28-20 on a straight party-line vote, sending it to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds for her consideration. Reynolds (shown) iowa governorsigned the bill.

Republicans who supported the measure said it represents comprehensive changes in Iowa’s energy policies and promised it will provide clean, reliable energy at a lower cost for consumers.

Republicans said the bill will specifically reduce costs that rate-regulated utilities levy on customers for energy efficiency projects by $100 million annually while retaining more than $120 million for energy efficiency projects. The legislation also requires utilities to distribute millions of dollars in savings to consumers because of changes in the federal tax code.

Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa, predicted that Iowans will still make energy efficiency improvements, but they will have lower utility rates.

“What will happen is that people will have more money in their pockets and they will make the best decisions for themselves,” Chelgren said.

Democrats contended the legislation will hurt consumers with higher costs for energy while jeopardizing the jobs of 20,000 Iowans involved in installing energy efficient products.”

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