Iowans respond to clean energy growth

During the past two decades, Iowa’s wind energy industry has created 8,000 to 9,000 jobs, spurred billions of dollars in investment, and provided Iowa landowners with $20 to $25 million in annual land lease payments. With nearly 7,000 megawatts (MW) of installed wind capacity, the state generates more than 37 percent of its power from wind.

Similarly, the Iowa solar industry has begun to follow an impressive growth curve. The Solar Energy Industries Association estimates Iowa will install approximately 225 MW of solar during the next five years.

But, how are Iowans responding to this growth in renewable energy and the corresponding transmission line upgrades that help carry local electricity to our homes?

The Center for Rural Affairs recently released a report offering insight into this question. The report draws on survey responses from Iowa county supervisors and auditors, as well as landowners. Survey responses indicate local elected leaders are generally supportive of wind and solar, especially when these technologies create local economic benefits.

When it comes to transmission lines, elected leaders prioritize fair treatment by developers, preservation of agricultural land, and provision of economic benefits. Landowners reported mostly favorable experiences negotiating transmission easements on their farms. They also offered recommendations on how developers can continue to improve the siting and construction process. Benefits of transmission lines are seen as less tangible than those from wind and solar installations. 

For more information on how Iowa leaders and landowners are responding to wind, solar, and transmission line development, visit cfra.org/publications/PoweringIowa and download the full report, “Powering Iowa: Rural Perspectives on Iowa’s Renewable Energy Transformation.”

Quick Iowa Legislature Update

Legislation that would cut or eliminate requirements for energy efficiency programs for major utilities have been introduced in the Iowa Legislature. At the time of print (of our March/April newsletter), two different bills are in action – Senate Study Bill (SSB) 3093/House Study Bill (HSB) 595 in the House and Senate Commerce Committees and SSB 3078 in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

A bill to extend the solar production tax credit for another year is also in the works. Contact your legislator to continue support for clean energy initiatives in Iowa.

Feature photo: Survey responses from county supervisors, auditors, and landowners in Iowa show general support of wind and solar, especially when economic benefits are created. More results can be found in “Powering Iowa: Rural Perspectives on Iowa’s Renewable Energy Transformation” at cfra.org. | Photo by Rhea Landholm