Solar energy powers Iowa jobs

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Jason Hall, guest columnist

Iowa is a state with nearly limitless renewable energy potential. With world-class wind resources and millions of acres of farmland, Iowa wind is now powering 31 percent of our state’s electricity needs. But in recent years, as costs have declined 48 percent since 2010, many Iowans are recognizing the cost savings and long-term price certainty that solar power provides.

Moxie Solar, a solar energy company I founded eight short years ago, was recently recognized by the Corridor Business Journal as the area’s fastest growing company. This award has multiple levels of significance. With a dramatic increase in employee count and a 536 percent growth in revenue from 2013-2015, the award hopefully indicates we are doing something right. It also signifies that solar energy works in Iowa. The state attracted $16 million in new investment in solar projects in 2015, and we expect to see exponential growth in the years to come.

Our company’s growth, and the subsequent award, also highlight how good public policy can spur economic growth and create jobs. There is no doubt the state and federal tax credits have helped incent residents, businesses, farmers and landowners to explore the opportunities that solar energy provides. These incentives have helped small businesses like mine grow, and there are now approximately 600 people employed in the state’s solar industry, according to recent Clean Jobs Midwest report.

Iowa’s leadership on renewable energy also helps advance energy independence, as solar energy is generated locally. Instead of importing oil and natural gas to cover energy needs, the energy dollars stay at home, benefiting local communities.

As a small-business owner, I have to plan for the future. And as an industry, we must prepare ourselves for solar energy development after tax incentives expire. Luckily, we have economics on our side. Incredible advances in technology have been driving down the costs of renewable energy, especially solar, the past few years. As a result, more solar energy was installed every three weeks in 2015 than was installed in the entire year of 2008 in the U.S.

Our team at Moxie looks forward to helping shield more Iowans from fluctuating energy costs by utilizing homegrown technology to harness the sun’s potential. Put simply, the future of Iowa’s solar industry is bright.

• Jason Hall is CEO of Moxie Solar, in North Liberty.

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