OPINION

Iowans support renewable energy investments

Already a national leader in renewable energy, the maturing solar energy industry in Iowa has seen huge growth with $36 million invested on solar installations in 2014 alone. If you add that investment to the wind energy projects underway, it is clear that Iowa is on its way toward energy independence.

As President of the Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association (ISETA), I have the privilege of watching these renewable investments grow the Iowa economy each day as I partner with businesses to provide solar solutions they need to boost business, lower energy bills and decrease their carbon footprint. Average installed residential and commercial system prices have dropped steadily across the nation. Prices dropped 12 percent from last year and 45 percent from 2010, making solar a competitive option for Iowans. In 2014, approximately 12MW of solar capacity was installed in Iowa, which was three times what was installed in 2013.

ISETA recently released a new poll from third-part Public Policy Polling that shows strong support among Iowa voters for the Clean Power Plan. The poll finds that there is overwhelming support in Iowa for the Clean Power Plan because it will benefit the Iowa economy A key finding is the bipartisan support for renewable energy as 78 percent of voters believe that renewable electricity sources like solar and wind power are important to invest in, including 95 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of independents and 62 percent of Republicans.

The survey found that 49 percent think reducing the use of coal and increasing the use of renewable energy sources will help create more Iowa jobs, compared to only 16 percent who think it will result in job losses for the state. Those numbers are an outgrowth of 78 percent of Iowans believing it’s important to make new investments in renewable energy sources like solar and wind.

In addition, 60 percent of voters in the state generally support the new EPA limits on carbon emissions from power plants, compared to only 36 percent who oppose them. When it comes to the specific goal of a 41 percent reduction in carbon pollution for Iowa by 2030, voters are even more supportive, with 65 percent in support of it to only 34 percent against.

Whether it is the installment and management of renewable energy systems, or the manufacturing and supply chain jobs that go with the investments, renewable energy grows our Iowa economy in a way that also creates a healthier community. The Clean Power Plan will enhance Iowa’s position as a renewable energy power house and enable us to further harness our natural solar resource. While Iowa ranks 16th nationally in sun potential, we rank just 31st for installed solar systems with just more than 20MW installed at the end of 2014. We can do better than that, and the Clean Power Plan provides the path to do so.

• Tim Dwight, a former NFL and University of Iowa football player, is president of the Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association. Comments: tim.dwight@ipowercorp.com

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