Now is the time for Iowa to go solar. Developing solar power in Iowa will create thousands of jobs and bring millions into our economy. A new report from the Iowa Policy Project and three other organizations — the Iowa Environmental Council, Environmental Law & Policy Center and Vote Solar Initiative — details the economic benefits.
Increasing our solar-powered energy and reaping these benefits is something Iowa can easily do with good state policy and private investment. Here are some reasons why:
— We have enough sun. Iowa has more solar resources than Germany, the world’s solar energy leader. 
— Iowa has experience leading with clean energy from developing wind power. Iowa went from under 250 MW of wind in 2000 to more than 3,500 MW in 2010. We now rank second nationally in installed capacity. 
— Twenty-two Iowa businesses manufacture, install or maintain solar systems. More Iowans are being trained in solar technology at community colleges and workshops across the state.
— Iowans have proved solar works. For example, Allsteel, a national workplace furniture company headquartered in Muscatine, installed panels last year to power production lines at its seating manufacturing plant. 
— Our competition has begun to encourage the industry. While California and New Jersey are the national leaders, our neighbors, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, have recently set solar energy goals. 
— Prices for solar keep dropping. Panels cost 30 times less than they did in the 1970s. 
— Installing solar would have only a modest impact on electric rates. If Iowa were to install 300 MW over the next five years, and all was brought on by investor-owned utilities, the average customer’s rates would only increase by $1.70 a month.
— Solar is safe. It doesn’t need to be exported from other countries and there are no harmful byproducts.
— Sunshine is an inexhaustible resource. The more we use oil or coal, the higher the price will go. No matter how much solar power is tapped, the sun will always come up tomorrow.
For these reasons and more, solar should top Iowa’s list of energy choices.
Posted by Teresa Galluzzo, Research Associate