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Linn County can lead Iowa’s solar era
Jan. 18, 2022 8:00 am
Iowa has long been positioned as a renewable energy leader thanks to our first-in-the-nation status in wind power. But now, we have a phenomenal opportunity to continue our energy leadership through growing solar power across our state. With the development of the Duane Arnold Solar Project, Linn County is positioned to lead our state into an era of solar growth, if approved.
As the executive director for the Iowa Utilities Association, I am involved in energy developments statewide. I’m confident that this specific project will bring benefits not only to Linn County but to the entire state. While the ability to generate clean, homegrown energy to power the equivalent of 40,000 homes is a crucial benefit, I am specifically encouraged by the economic benefits this project presents.
The Duane Arnold Solar Project is estimated to generate more than $40 million in tax revenue. Revenue like this supports essential services, including but not limited to education, local infrastructure improvements and emergency services, and can be used by communities where it is most needed. This project also will create hundreds of construction jobs for local workers, paying family-supporting wages and benefiting the economy. These workers will spend money at local businesses like hotels, restaurants, and gas stations.
Local landowners also will reap benefits from this project. This development offers tremendous opportunities through voluntary participation. Now, landowners can choose whether to harvest traditional crops, like corn or soybeans, or harvest the sun. And there is no adverse impact to the participating or neighboring land when it comes to agricultural production. Land that hosts solar panels will be maintained to a quality that supports future crop growth, allowing for flexible land use and diversification of economic resources for landowners.
The Duane Arnold Solar Project's development will further grow the benefits that Iowa's burgeoning solar industry has already brought to our state. Iowa now has 50 solar companies operating across the state, and the solar industry powers more than 770 clean workforce jobs. The solar industry has attracted $568 million in capital investment to Iowa, strengthening our economy.
The fact that Iowa leads the nation on renewable energy is significant. And no one should take this for granted. Our leadership positions us to guide, strengthen, and grow our renewable energy industry within the state of Iowa and across our nation.
Iowa has already persisted and succeeded in growing wind energy. Bolstering the solar and renewables industry across our state is the next logical step. Through the development of the Duane Arnold Solar Project, Linn County will not only gain tremendous economic benefits but be a front-runner in Iowa's solar growth. This project is a crucial step toward a solar future for Iowa, and it should be supported.
Chaz Allen is executive director of the Iowa Utility Association.
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