Last month, the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC), a Council member organization, released a new report recognizing Iowa as a leader in clean energy.
The report, which looked at the wind and solar energy industries in the Midwest, highlighted 122 Iowa companies engaged in the wind and solar industry supply chains (75 in wind, 47 in solar) in the Hawkeye state. Per the American Wind Energy Association and The Solar Foundation, nearly 4,700 jobs were supported by Iowa’s clean energy industry (4,000 in wind, 680 in solar). Solar jobs are growing, however, and The Solar Foundation just updated that number to 900 Iowa solar jobs, bringing the total number to nearly 5,000.
“ELPC’s report findings clearly show that clean energy benefits Iowa’s economy and job market,” said Energy Program Director Nathaniel Baer. “It also echoes the positive feedback and support for clean energy that we’ve received from individual homeowners, farmers and businesses that have installed wind or solar on their property.”
Iowa’s wind and solar firms are located throughout the state and range from large manufacturers to small businesses specializing in service, installation and maintenance of wind and solar equipment.
A separate bipartisan poll conducted this summer found that 85 percent of Republican and 90 percent of Democrats and Independents support an increase in solar and wind energy production. Sixty-seven percent of all voters agree that renewable energy production is very important to the Iowa economy, and a majority of voters believe that an increase in use of renewable energy would lead to a direct increase in jobs.
ELPC’s report also shows out that while Iowa is both a national and regional leader in wind energy production, we have some catching up to do on solar with our neighboring states. Iowa has the highest percentage of electricity generated by wind of any state, and our 5,177W of cumulative installed wind capacity (as of 2013) is more than any other state in the Midwest. Iowa’s 4.6 MW of cumulative installed solar capacity as of the end of 2013 was the lowest among states in the region covered in the report. Iowa’s solar market is growing rapidly and the right policies can keep Iowa on track to catch up with or surpass our neighbors.
The report cites four main factors for Iowa’s clean energy sector growth, many of which the Council has been instrumental in advocating for, advancing, supporting and promoting:
– Clean energy tax incentives
– Strong wind resources
– Multi-modal transportation system
– Educational institutions and a skilled workforce
“As the end of the 2015 Legislative session draws near, we will continue to work to advance legislation that increases access to wind and solar, and defend against legislation that hinders Iowa’s transition to clean energy,” Baer said.