The Iowa Economic Development Authority’s (IEDA) State Energy Office was recently awarded $1.03 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the Rooftop Solar Challenge II. This funding allows IEDA and its partners, the Iowa Environmental Council and Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, to launch the Iowa Statewide Solar Readiness Initiative, a program aimed at promoting uniform processes and procedures associated with the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems throughout the state.
The Rooftop Solar Challenge II empowers teams to make it easier and more affordable for Americans to go solar through competitively awarded funding. By streamlining permit processes, updating planning and zoning codes, improving standards for connecting solar power to the electric grid, and increasing access to financing, teams will clear a path for rapid expansion of solar energy and serve as models for other communities across the nation. The Rooftop Solar Challenge II is part of the SunShot Initiative, which strives to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade.
“Ranked 16th for technical solar potential, Iowa has real potential to generate solar energy as another alternative fuel source,” said Governor Terry E. Branstad. “As a leader in wind energy and renewable fuels, Iowa should be at the front of the pack in implementing programs that encourage the use of solar energy as well.”
The funds will be used to develop tools and resources specifically for use in Iowa and to increase solar awareness. The grant’s objectives include increasing knowledge among communities regarding the benefits of solar PV and the barriers to adoption; providing communities with resources related to planning and zoning; promoting the standardization of net metering and interconnection throughout the state; and, identifying and evaluating policy options at the local and state jurisdiction levels to further reduce soft costs of solar installation.
The IEDA is partnering with the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU) and the Iowa Environmental Council (IEC) to implement the Iowa Statewide Solar Readiness Initiative over the grant’s 36-month lifecycle. The project will work directly with several local governments who will serve as pilot organizations to implement measures to reduce barriers to solar installation. This includes Floyd County, Linn County, and the cities of Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Dubuque. In addition, a minimum of two communities serviced by a municipal electrical utility will participate as pilot cities.
“For some municipal utilities, customer deployment of rooftop solar will be viewed as a logical resource strategy. It stems the flow of cash from the community to pay investment bankers and the owners of transmission lines, central power plants, coal mines, railroads, gas wells, and pipelines,” said Bob Haug, the Executive Director of the IAMU. “In any event, reducing the soft costs of solar just makes common sense.”
Ralph Rosenberg, Executive Director of the Iowa Environmental Council added, “Iowa’s success with wind energy development clearly demonstrates the environmental and economic benefits of increasing use of clean energy. With improving technologies and rapidly decreasing costs, solar energy is ready to complement wind energy as a renewable source of energy Iowans increasingly rely on. The growing number of schools, farms and businesses choosing to go solar demonstrates how excited Iowans are about this technology.”
The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, DOE supports efforts by private companies, academia, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Learn more at http://www.energy.gov/sunshot.