Iowa ranks high nationally in renewable energy

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Iowa ranks among the top ten states in the nation — and first in the Midwest — when it comes to investing in renewable energy, according to a nationwide report.

On Thursday, the Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization of scientists and researchers who focus on environmental and social issues, released the Clean Energy Momentum: Ranking State Progress report. The report, which uses data from a number of resources including the U.S. Energy Information Administration and U.S. Census Bureau, analyzes states based on a dozen metrics geared toward renewable energy, energy efficiency and electric vehicle trends.

Iowa ranks 10th in the country, according to the report, which focuses on renewable energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric and bioenergy.

“This is an amazing time for clean energy. The leading states are doing great things on this, Iowa is one of the top states that we are pointing the rest of the country to,” said John Rogers, senior energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Rogers said Iowa has also played a pivotal role in other states’ successes. Iowa passed the nation’s first renewable electricity standard in 1983. There are now 29 states with standards in place.

“Iowa can claim a big role in a lot of what we’re seeing in terms of clean energy momentum,” Rogers said.

As for specific metrics, Iowa ranked first in the country for creating an environment friendly to businesses looking to buy clean power from utilities or third parties.

In addition, Iowa ranked third in the amount of increased renewable energy generation between 2011 and 2015. Iowa’s renewable power generation increased by more than 10 percentage points in that span.

The report notes Iowa’s increased investment in wind power, as well as decreasing use of coal plants, as a factor in the state’s high ranking.

Meanwhile, Iowa also ranked seventh regarding in-state renewable electricity generation. While Iowa leads the nation with about 36 percent of in-state generated power coming from wind turbines, states like South Dakota and those in the Pacific Northwest ranked higher for their growing wind industry paired with an established hydroelectric infrastructure, according to the report.

“Iowa didn’t get to the top ten in our rankings just because of its wind development, it got there because it’s doing stuff on a range of fronts,” Rogers said.

l Comments: (319) 339-3175; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

Stephen Schmidt / The Gazette

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