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Iowa Makes Strides in Renewable Energy

Iowa is a national leader in wind energy, but ranks 32nd among the states for installed solar capacity. (Pixabay)
Iowa is a national leader in wind energy, but ranks 32nd among the states for installed solar capacity. (Pixabay)
December 19, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa – Strides are being made in the Midwest for renewable energy, but there's still room for improvement.

Illinois is being praised for its recent passage of a climate bill aimed at growing solar and wind technology, creating jobs and lowering utility bills.

Attorney Brad Klein with the Environmental Law and Policy Center hopes Iowa and other states will follow the lead and continue to make progress on wind and solar energy.

"Iowa is actually a leader in the entire country in wind development, and they're now moving to take advantage of their solar resource,” he points out. “There's been a lot of new solar development in Iowa, and we think that we could see a lot more in years to come. "

Wind generation accounts for about one-third of Iowa's power generation, with more than 6,300 megawatts of installed wind capacity.

On the solar front, Iowa's solar tax credit program has resulted in nearly $85 million in solar project investments since 2012. But Iowa ranks 32nd among the states for installed solar capacity.

Klein describes the Midwest as "a little slow" to completely embrace the renewable-energy industry, but he says it's starting to pick up.

"Over the last several years, there have been tremendous technology improvements and cost improvements for solar that are really putting us right on the cusp of a real boom in the solar market in the Midwest," he says.

While advocates of renewable energy have expressed concern over President-elect Donald Trump's likely choice of Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Klein maintains the industry will survive politics.

"What it does do, it makes the role of the states even more important,” he states. “So, while I think there are some reasons to be discouraged now about the direction of the federal policy in this area, I do think the development of more renewable energy and clean energy is inevitable."

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IA