While some states have gigawatts of solar power installed (California, Arizona, North Carolina, for example), some don’t. Case in point, Iowa. The Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) and its member cooperatives just announced that they will build a total of 5.5 megawatts of new solar farms across six sites.
That’s a 20 percent increase in solar power for the largely rural state. However, that’s not to say the state doesn’t use a lot of renewable energy. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) ranked Iowa second in terms of wind energy, with 6.2 gigawatts of installed wind capacity, edging out California and only behind Texas which has 17.7 gigawatts of wind power installed. In 2014, 28 percent of all of the state’s electric generation came from wind power.
Solar power hasn’t taken off in the state yet—it had a total of 27 megawatts installed at the end of 2015, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. But that may change as the CIPCO becomes more familiar with the technology and other utilities may follow.
“CIPCO was clear that this effort is just the first phase of the rural electric cooperative’s long-term plan to incorporate solar as an additional pollution-free resource within its energy portfolio,” said Josh Mandelbaum, Staff Attorney of the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Des Moines. He added, “CIPCO has taken a great step forward in providing their members access to solar energy.”
The state also has made some changes to make it easier for people to go solar individually, as well. For instance, in 2014 Iowa Supreme Court ruled that power-purchase agreements (PPAs) should be allowed in the state, making it easier to finance installations. In 2015 the state decided to continue net-metering solar rooftops, allowing homeowners to get credit for energy they put back on the grid.
“The enormous potential for solar energy in states like Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin is just now beginning to be realized, and rural electric cooperatives, which have strong relationships with their members, have an opportunity to lead the way,” remarked Brad Klein, senior attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center.
The projects will be built by St. Louis’ Azimuth Energy.Tweet