Tag Archives: wind

New report outlines potential for Iowa wind energy to reduce carbon emissions

Iowa has long been a national leader in wind energy, and there are new opportunities to continue to be an industry trailblazer.

Today, the Iowa Wind Energy Association (IWEA) released a new report, “Iowa’s Wind Potential for Addressing 111(d) Goals: The Potential for Tapping Iowa’s Wind Resource to Reduce CO2 Emissions,” that analyzes Iowa’s current wind energy production and forecasts the state’s ability to use wind energy to achieve carbon pollution reductions under the proposed Clean Power Plan.

By establishing state-specific carbon reduction goals, the proposed Clean Power Plan would cut 30 percent of the 2005 carbon levels from the country’s existing power plants by 2030. Iowa’s proposed goal is a 16 percent carbon reduction from 2012 levels.

The IWEA report, co-authored by wind industry experts Dan Turner, Ph.D. and Thomas A. Wind, P.E., found that Iowa is not only well-positioned to use renewable wind energy to meet Iowa’s carbon reduction goal under the proposed Clean Power Plan, but Iowa’s leadership in the renewable wind industry also leaves the state well-positioned to help other states meet reduction goals in a way that benefits our economy.

3_InfographicAccording to the report, by 2016, Iowa will already be more than half way (52 percent) to meeting its 16 percent reduction goal with wind alone given the 1,212 MW being installed by 2016. Iowa would only have to install a modest amount (an estimated 1,100 MW) of additional wind energy and take no other actions to meet the goal by 2030.

Iowa could even achieve a more stringent carbon reduction goal by 2030 through increased wind energy development. Building another 3,100 MW of wind would allow Iowa to meet a 30 percent carbon reduction target, almost twice the target proposed by EPA. This is certainly achievable for Iowa, given that between 2008 and 2015, Iowa will have added 635 MW/year of wind energy capacity, far more than the 210 MW/year that would need to be built by 2030 to meet a 30 percent carbon reduction.

4_InfographicThe report also examines how the Clean Power Plan presents an opportunity for Iowa’s wind energy industry to help other Midwest states meet carbon reduction goals. For example, if Iowa built 7,500 MW of wind by 2030 (an average of 500 MW/year), the entire reduction target of Wisconsin or Missouri could be met. Or, if other Midwest states build wind within their borders to comply with carbon reduction goals, Iowa manufacturers and wind-related businesses could help meet demand for turbines, components and services.

The report also notes the economic benefits of wind energy. The state’s wind energy industry currently employs more than 6,000 Iowans, and landowners receive more than $16 million annually in lease payments. By the end of 2015, total capital investment in wind development will be more than $10 billion, and the total increased assessed value of property for wind turbines in Iowa through 2013 is estimated to be $2.6 billion. Wind energy is also more resistant to changes in cost than other energy alternatives.

With the support of policies and programs that encourage wind energy growth, Iowa will continue on its current track to not only achieve but exceed its proposed carbon reduction goal with wind alone, positioning Iowa to help other states achieve their goals in a way that benefits Iowa’s economy and job market.

Read an executive summary of the report
Read the full report

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Governor Branstad Signs Key Solar Tax Incentive Bill

Governor Branstad today signed Senate File 2340, a key tax incentive bill for solar energy. The law triples the size of Iowa’s successful solar tax incentive program and makes additional improvements to the program. The legislation received wide bipartisan support at the statehouse, with the Iowa Senate passing it with a unanimous vote of 46-0 and the Iowa House passing it with a vote of 88-4. The Iowa solar tax incentive matches a portion of an existing federal tax incentive for solar thermal and solar photovoltaic (PV) energy.

Senate File 2340 increases the annual cap available for solar tax credits from $1.5M to $4.5M. As solar energy grows in Iowa, demand for the tax credits exceeded the cap in 2013 by almost $1M, according to the latest information available from the Iowa Department of Revenue. Increasing the cap to $4.5M will help ensure that any Iowa taxpayer that installs solar can benefit from the Iowa solar tax incentive.

The  legislation also does the following to improve the solar tax incentive program:

  • Allows taxpayers to claim multiple credits in a single year for multiple solar installations. This is already allowed under the federal program and will, for example, help businesses install solar at multiple business locations in a single year.
  • Increases the cap for residential tax credits from $3,000 to $5,000 and for business tax credits from $15,000 to $20,000.
  • Increases the Iowa credit from 50% of the federal credit to 60% of the federal credit.
  • Reserves a portion of the annual cap for residential tax credits.
  • Allows any unclaimed credits in a given year to roll over and be available in subsequent years.

The legislation promises to boost solar installations across Iowa. The current tax credit cap of $1.5M supported approximately 2-3 megawatts (MW) of solar PV in a given year and supported installations in 59 Iowa counties. Increasing the cap to $4.5M could boost that to 8 MW – or more – annually.

In addition to SF 2340, Gov. Branstad also signed an important bill, SF 2343, to extend production tax credits for wind and improve a pilot tax credit for combined heat and power.

More information about solar energy in Iowa is available here.

 

Your voice is needed to build Iowa’s leadership in renewable energy

solar

If you own or plan to own a renewable energy installation, your voice is especially important now.

Update [2/24]:  Due to continued problems with its electronic filing system, the Iowa Utilities Board has extended the public comment period by one day.  The board released a statement on the topic that read, in part:  “Because of a recent fire in another state government building, the Board’s electronic filing system (EFS) has experienced some unscheduled down time. Therefore, the Board will extend the deadline for filing responses to February 26, 2014.”

Last month, the Iowa Utilities Board announced a “Notice of Inquiry” to gather information on distributed generation of renewable energy in Iowa.  The notice of inquiry allows the Board to gather information, and evidence suggests some participants want to use this opportunity to dismantle or block important policies supporting distributed wind and solar energy in Iowa.

Iowa’s policy regarding distributed generation affects the state’s ability to lead in renewable energy and to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. For Iowans who have installed wind turbines or solar panels, or want to in the future, these policies govern your relationship with your electric utility and how you are compensated for energy you produce.

This inquiry is your opportunity to tell the Iowa Utilities Board you want take advantage of the substantial and largely untapped potential for solar and wind growth in our state.  You can help build Iowa’s national leadership in renewable energy by submitting your comment to the Board today.

Find out how to submit a comment after the jump.

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New transmission projects – critical for Iowa wind energy growth – are moving forward

The Council is working to ensure areas like this conserved ground in Kossuth County are protected as new transmission lines are planned and built nearby.

The Council is working to ensure areas like this conserved ground in Kossuth County are protected as new transmission lines are planned and built nearby.

Maintaining Iowa’s national leadership in wind energy requires more than just adding additional wind turbines; our state also needs a electric grid capable of moving wind energy to where it is needed. Some windy areas of the state have no existing transmission capacity and in other areas existing lines have reached full capacity.

MidAmerican’s wind expansion will be spread across the five counties outlined on the map above.  Proposed new or upgraded transmission lines are shown in black, along with the windiest portion of the state, in white.

MidAmerican’s wind expansion will be spread across the five counties outlined on the map above. Proposed new or upgraded transmission lines are shown in black, along with the windiest portion of the state, in white.

Occasionally, Iowa wind farms must even stop producing energy because the electric grid is too congested to accept additional production.  Now, three of the five Iowa counties where MidAmerican Energy recently announced plans to develop more than a gigawatt of additional wind capacity are on or close to transmission upgrades.  MidAmerican’s wind expansion has been called the largest single economic development investment in Iowa history.

Several transmission upgrade proposals are moving forward which, if built as proposed, would enable significant new wind generation to help Iowa reach important renewable energy goals. ITC Midwest and MidAmerican Energy are have plans for north-central Iowa and Clean Line Energy Partners is proposing a line from northwest Iowa into Illinois.

While these transmission proposals offer the environmental benefit of more wind generation, siting and construction of the lines themselves can have environmental impacts. So far, many portions of the MidAmerican and ITC Midwest transmission plans involve upgrading existing lines, which will not require additional land use. In some instances, however, no transmission lines currently exist and a new right of way is needed.

The land use in this part of the state is primarily in row crop agriculture, so transmission and additional wind are often very compatible. However, this also means that the remaining environmentally sensitive lands are very important to preserve. Doing so is not easy, since no comprehensive inventory of ecologically sensitive land under private ownership exists.

Right from the start of the planning and construction process, the Council has been working to minimize any risks by engaging transmission developers with environment and conservation stakeholders.  With open lines of communication, we believe it is possible to make necessary upgrades to the electric grid and also important habitat and open spaces.

Rosenberg welcomes MidAmerican wind energy announcement, calls for additional state renewable energy leadership

Following Governor Branstad’s announcement Wednesday that MidAmerican Energy will make a new $1.9 billion dollar investment in Iowa wind energy production, Iowa Environmental Council executive director Ralph Rosenberg made the following statement:

Ralph Rosenberg

Rosenberg

“The Iowa Environmental Council and our supporters across the state welcome the announcement that MidAmerican Energy will add 1,050 megawatts of new wind energy capacity in Iowa. Governor Branstad is correct that wind energy brings new economic opportunities to Iowa not only from the manufacturing, installation, and operations of wind turbines, but also because the availability of renewable energy in our state makes Iowa a more attractive place to locate a business.”

“As a steadfast supporter of wind energy in Iowa, the Council has called for our state to set new goals for wind energy generation of installing 10 gigawatts of capacity by 2020 and 20 gigawatts by 2030.  Today’s announcement by MidAmerican will push Iowa past the 6 gigawatt mark, meaning we are well on our way to accomplishing these important goals.  Iowans have embraced wind energy because they know it provides jobs and economic opportunities while reducing Iowa’s dependence on fossil fuels and imported sources of energy.

“Announcements like Wednesday’s are not the only way Iowa policymakers need to show leadership for renewable energy in Iowa.  Our leaders must continue their calls for making long-term extensions to the federal wind energy production tax credit.  The state could do more to promote small scale, locally owned renewable energy development by adopting utility incentive rates (sometimes called “feed-in tariffs”) to ensure that Iowans who install solar panels or a wind turbine receive a fair price for electricity they generate.  It is also important for Iowa’s public policies to encourage development of the state’s underutilized solar resource as well as energy efficiency.”