Iowa votes to triple solar incentive

Decision-makers in the U.S. state of Iowa have voted overwhelmingly in favor of tripling state tax incentives for solar power.

The Iowa Senate displayed its unanimous support for the state’s growing solar sector on Friday last week, voting 46-0 in favor of the proposal, which is an amendment on an earlier bill introduced in 2012 to initially support farmers, homeowners and small businesses to back solar.

Since then, solar’s growth in the state has been rapid, and this latest ruling is bound to see the sector continue its encouraging evolution.

"This is a bill to build on the success of Iowa’s growing solar power industry," said Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids. "We need to triple the credits so that we can respond to the continually growing demand for solar power and make sure that we maximize the benefit for Iowans of the federal solar energy tax credits, which are set to expire at the end of 2016."

The Senate bill now goes to the Iowa House for approval, before passing to the state governor for further consideration. If it is passed into law, individuals, associations, cooperatives and companies that install solar PV systems will be able to apply for a state tax credit worth up to 60% of the federal tax credit for solar energy installation. It is estimated that some $4.5 million in state tax credits has been set aside for solar PV installations. Currently that figure is around $1.5 million.

Iowa has evidently fallen in love with solar PV. Less than six years ago, according to Hogg, the largest single solar installation in the State was a 7 kW array in the town of Hiawatha. Now, although Iowa lags some way behind national leaders California, Arizona and Colorado, the impetus is increasing day by day.

"Hundreds of businesses, farmers and homeowners across the State have systems that are 7 kW or larger," added Hogg. "The largest PV array in Iowa is at Luther College – 280 kW, and later this year the Farmers Electric Co-op will break ground on an 800 kW unit – more than a hundred times larger than what just six years ago was the largest array in our State."