116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
As a longtime Iowan, former Iowa Utilities Board member, and former state legislator, the success and prosperity of our state make me proud. Iowa has seen incredible growth and development across industries. This achievement proves to the world what we Iowans have known for decades — we are a state that is ready to shine.
Today, Iowa’s energy sector is made up of 12,334 MW of operating wind and solar energy, powering the equivalent of 3.9 million Iowa homes. While a good portion of that capacity belongs to wind, solar is starting to close the gap.
By tapping into renewable energy sources like solar, Iowa can draw incredible investment opportunities. Iowa has seen an impressive $23 billion in annual capital investment from clean energy to date. Those investments are what power Iowa’s small-town economies through the creation of 5,200 jobs and by generating $57 million in state and local tax revenue. The economic development opportunities for Iowa communities don’t stop there. Iowa’s renewable energy leadership has drawn significant investment from companies and organizations, such as Amazon’s seven warehouses spread across the state, SSAB steel manufacturing in Muscatine, and Facebook, now known as Meta’s, data center in Altoona, which have elected to locate in our state and contribute to further job creation.
These corporations have plans and deadlines for reaching zero carbon emissions and are turning to renewable energy sources to reach those goals. Since announcing the transition to 100 percent renewable energy for its data centers, Meta has made progress toward reaching its net-zero goals. Thanks to Iowa’s renewable energy excellence, our state has become home to one of Meta’s largest data centers.
The Altoona Data Center is supported by 100 percent renewable energy sources, including solar, and uses 32 percent less energy in the process. Meta has also committed to making additional investments in new wind and solar projects in the state, representing over $82 million.
Solar energy has made a big splash in the renewable energy industry, including a 43 percent increase in solar installations in 2020 alone. It has become increasingly affordable, accessible, and more prevalent in the United States than ever before. Proposed projects like Duane Arnold Solar I and II in Linn County are new solar development opportunities for the state. If brought online, Duane Arnold Solar Phase I will create up to 265 jobs during construction, with Phase II creating up to 800 jobs. These industry jobs not only provide Eastern Iowa folks a steady, well-paying job but help to fuel a booming economy — an added bonus to the approximate $260 million in economic output the phases are expected to bring. These benefits, plus many more, bring success to Iowa communities for generations to come.
Renewable energy has provided Iowa with significant economic benefits and has pushed our state into a new era of leadership. It is my hope that communities across Iowa continue to experience upward growth, and that they realize they can do so by harnessing all that solar energy has to offer.
Libby Jacobs is a former state representative and former member of the Iowa Utilities Board.