Greenbacks Backing Alternate Energy Projects in Iowa
July 29, 2010
AMES, Iowa - Alternative energy projects are getting financial support like never before in Iowa. The Alternate Energy Revolving Loan Program was created by the Iowa legislature in 1996 and was handed over to the Iowa Energy Center. Initially funded with just under $6 million from Iowa's investor-owned utilities, the idea was to give worthy projects loans of up to $1 million, at zero-percent interest, at terms as long as 20 years.
Program manager Bill Haman says it was a slow-go at first, but things have picked up in recent years, and the applicants are pursuing just about any alternate energy venture under the sun.
"A lot of solar projects, some biomass projects, and one hydro electric project. There have been some biodiesel and ethanol investment included in the program."
Haman says he and his staff review applications for their technical viability, and they also act as a sort-of liaison between those looking to grow alternate energy in Iowa and the banks they go to.
"By partnering with the banking community, we're able to educate the bankers on renewable energy, and by providing them with a technical review of the project, we're able to reduce the amount of risk."
The program's not relegated to larger ventures, he adds. It can also accommodate a project as small as a farmer looking to put up a wind turbine.
"He knows he's going to get a technical review, which is basically a check on whether or not his contractor is selling him a good piece of equipment, and whether or not that piece of equipment's going to perform the way the contractor says it's going to."
Matching financing for the project has to come from a lender of the applicant's choice. The program's received an additional $5 million this year from the state's I-JOBS bill. Since its inception, the program has provided close to $15.4 million in loans to 133 renewable energy projects with total construction costs of $161 million.