Iowa legislators to consider solar incentives in 2016 session


The Iowa state capitol in Des Moines. (Ashton B Crew/Wikimedia Commons)
The Iowa state capitol in Des Moines. (Ashton B Crew/Wikimedia Commons)
Nick Fetty | January 12, 2016

Policymakers returned to the statehouse this week to kick off the legislative session for the 86th Iowa General Assembly and solar energy policy is one of the many issues likely to be addressed.

Legislators will decide whether to increase two popular solar project tax credits in 2016,  as reported by Midwest Energy News. The two credits – one for utilities and one for customers – gained bipartisan support in 2015 by expanding “the state’s renewable energy production tax credit” and “creating a 10 megawatt set-aside for solar investments only.” The production tax credit pays 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour to utilities generating or purchasing solar power.

Nathaniel Baer, energy program director for the Iowa Environmental Council, said that he expects the 10-megawatt allotment to increase as interest in solar energy in Iowa continues to grow.

While the legislators will handle the policy side, researchers from Iowa State University are busy studying the science behind solar energy.

Steve Martin, an engineering professor at ISU, is currently studying ways “to create safer, low-cost batteries that can store large amounts of wind and solar energy.” Specifically, Martin is trying to find a way to remove flammable organic liquids in lithium-ion and sodium batteries currently on the market. Martin and his team recently received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to continue their study.

In 2014 Iowa ranked 16th nationally for solar energy potential but was 31st for installed systems with just over 20 MW, according to data from Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association.

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