Lisa Markowski for Zondits, November 17, 2015. Image credit: tanakawho
The chairperson of the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) has delayed $4 million in funding for renewable energy research pending response to her questions about the Iowa Energy Center’s operations. Geri Huser may be violating a law that says these funds must go to the research center, which is operated by Iowa State University, as soon as they are collected by the IUB. The delay may interrupt research progress and energy project installations and eventually result in layoffs (the research center expected to receive the funds by the middle of September).
Critics of the move believe that Huser is overstepping bounds, especially since the Iowa Energy Center has followed protocol by submitting an annual report to the IUB. According to the Associated Press, Huser has stated that she does not believe the research center has inappropriately spent previous funding, but she wants detailed information on the center’s grant selections and achievements.
Regulator delays funding for Iowa Energy Center
TH Online, November 17, 2015
The Iowa Utilities Board chairwoman is taking the unusual, perhaps illegal, step of withholding funding from the state’s renewable energy research center until its leaders satisfy her questions about its programs and finances.
The move by Geri Huser might violate a law that requires the funding to be appropriated to the Iowa Energy Center at Iowa State University once it’s collected by the utilities board. If the delay continues, the center might have to suspend its grant programs and lay off workers. The funding is usually transferred by mid-September.
Huser told The Associated Press she has no indications money has been misspent. But she said she was temporarily withholding $4 million — earmarked for the center from annual assessments on electric and gas utilities — as she pushes for detailed information about its grant and loan programs. She said she hopes for a quick resolution without major disruption.