116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Just as Iowa “feeds the world,” some in the energy industry believe the state can “power much of the world,” too.
“We’ve got a lot of potential left in this state” for further investments in renewable energy, said Joel Schmidt, vice president of business development at Alliant Energy, during a panel Tuesday hosted by the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance.
Much of those investments are coming in solar energy.
NextEra has proposed a solar farm with up to 690 megawatts of power near the site of the now-decommissioned Duane Arnold Energy Center.
Alliant, meanwhile, laid out plans last year to add 400 megawatts of solar power by 2023. Less than 1 percent of the Madison, Wis.-based utility’s energy generated in Iowa came from solar resources.
More than 30 percent came from wind energy.
Greg Luerkens, the president and CEO of Amana Society, said the company is considering building a solar farm on its property.
Aside from the environmental benefits, solar energy has seen more economic benefits recently.
Ron Corbett, the Economic Alliance’s vice president of economic development, said businesses increasingly have tied sustainability requirements into requests for proposals.
“This is different from what we’ve seen in the past, and I don't think it’s an anomaly,” Corbett told The Gazette after the panel discussion. “I think it’s a trend, and I think we’ll see more of it going forward.”
A recent American Clean Power Association report said Iowa ranked first in percentage of electricity generated from renewable energy.
Panelists said there are some policy obstacles, though, that keep the industry from further growth.
James Hoeger, the regional sales director at Eagle Point Solar, said expanding state tax credits for solar energy would help.
“We’re having tremendous demand for that,” Hoeger said in the panel. “It has spurred growth and continues to do so.”
Hoeger said the tax credits have made solar panels more financially lucrative for Iowans.
“When people look at solar, they look for the green aspects, but they also want a return on investment,” Hoeger said.
Luerkens said the financial incentives for solar energy are especially helpful for a company with a “limited number of resources.”
“The more that can be made available for us to do, the more initiatives we can take up,” Luerkens said.
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