Iowa lawmakers are headed down a path they should not be on.

The state’s largest power company, MidAmerican Energy Co., is urging the Legislature to overturn an environmentally friendly rule that’s worked for more than three decades.

At stake are net-metering incentives that allow homeowners to resell electricity generated by solar panels or wind turbines.

Since the 1980s, when alternative energy became a reality, the Iowa Utilities Board has required public utilities to repurchase residential customers’ excess electricity at reasonable rates.

Because of the public good associated with Iowa’s net-metering rules, they have gone largely unchallenged since the early 1990s.

Among other things, the rules have contributed to major utility companies’ cutting back their use of harmful fossil fuels and reduced the need to build expensive new power plants.

For decades, Iowa has done the right thing by encouraging consumers to reduce their environmental footprint with home-based green energy.

Even the large public utilities saw the light. MidAmerican has built large wind farms and replaced coal-fired power plants with much cleaner natural gas. It’s even considering creating its own solar farms, for which the utility should be applauded.

That record is what makes this new move so disconcerting.

It’s like the leadership at MidAmerican suddenly turned stupid. Maybe greedy is the better word.

Lobbyists for MidAmerican are asking lawmakers to end the state’s net-neutral electric transmission policy and to allow them to charge homeowners a fee when residential solar panels or wind turbines push power back onto the electric grid.

The fee is not overly large. One estimate is $28 a month. But that’s not the point. The point is that $28 a month will more than wipe out the gains many homeowners could receive from selling power back to the utility and discourage them from going solar.

Experts say the proposal would virtually end installation of new residential solar panels in much of Iowa.

It is particularly sad that this is happening at a time when solar energy is on the way to becoming a viable alternative for an expanded array of consumers.

But not if MidAmerican has its way. Its proposal, contained in House File 669 and Senate File 583, would set the solar industry in Iowa back years.

MidAmerican CEO Adam Wright even admitted in a March 5 opinion piece in the Des Moines Register “the typical solar user needs to push energy to the grid when it’s sunny and draw on it all night and on the many cloudy days we have in Iowa.”

Does he not understand that sunny, hot days are when his utility needs additional power, which it can get at low cost from residential solar customers?

Residential solar panels are doing what policymakers want. They are sending low-cost power back onto MidAmerican’s grid during peak usage, so the utility does not have to build expensive new generating plants.

Instead of seeking to drive away residential solar customers, MidAmerican should think more like Green Mountain Power in Vermont.

Three years ago, Green Mountain Power launched a program under which homeowners could acquire special batteries manufactured by Tesla, the electric car company.

The Tesla batteries mount on a wall in garages or basements and store power for homeowners and their local communities. That power can be pulled back onto the electric grid at peak periods, and the batteries protect homeowners during power outages.

To join the program, homeowners paid a one-time fee of $1,500, or agreed to pay $15 a month for 10 years. The program was so popular Green Mountain had to limit participation.

That’s what MidAmerican should be doing, instead of looking for ways to discourage the use of green energy.