Today, surrounded by solar energy advocates, Governor Branstad signed HF645 into law, expanding access to solar energy for Iowans across the state.
HF645 is a modest but important piece of legislation that increases available solar energy tax incentive funds by $500,000 from $4.5 million to $5 million, and makes improvements to the 476C production tax credit for solar energy, which can be used to support community solar power projects.
“Iowa is beginning to see growth in solar energy, but much potential – from a capacity, economic and an ownership interest perspective – still remains,” said Energy Program Director Nathaniel Baer. “HF645 will increase Iowans’ ability to seize those opportunities, and do so in a way that benefits our economy, communities and environment.”
HF645 is the most recent legislation in a string of legislative victories for clean energy. Last year, the Iowa Legislature tripled Iowa’s solar energy tax incentive funds. The program has been so effective that demand still exceeds the annual cap. HF645 will help meet some of that demand.
Solar tax incentives are only one of the policies needed to support the growing solar sector. Strong net metering policies, financing options, and policies to support connecting to the grid are all needed to ensure Iowa benefits from adding solar energy in coming years.
Iowa currently ranks among the top third of U.S. states in its technical potential for solar PV energy production, ahead of some southern states including Florida, Georgia, and both North and South Carolina. Solar energy also offers significant economic benefits to Iowa. Solar energy jobs in the state have grown from 210 in 2012 to 900 last year. Additionally, solar energy strengths Iowa’s energy independence, reducing the need and costs associated with importing fossil fuels, translating to cleaner, healthier state.
The cost of installing solar has decreased significantly in recent years, a trend that is expected to continue, and generates the most electricity during the periods of highest demand. By generating electricity during these times, solar power can reduce costs and improve the reliability of the grid.