Letter to the editor: Solar bill supports grid reliability

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To the editor:

Solar energy should be in greater use throughout the U.S., and Iowa can lead the way with the tax credit fixes proposed in House File 221. It is a step in the right direction.

The American Institute of Architects, of which I am a member, has a 2030 plan for net-zero buildings. The urban built environment is responsible for about 79% of energy consumption, with buildings being 39% of energy consumption in the U.S.

The Energy Code for Iowa helps architects by creating a framework of standards that make buildings more energy efficient. When solar energy is added to buildings, the goal of net-zero is easier to achieve.

Solar energy installations provide resiliency and reduced loading on the grid. Excess energy produced by the panels goes back into the grid. When there are energy production problems, solar panels keep the lights on.

Every building that has the siting to make solar energy feasible should have panels installed. Energy companies are already switching to cleaner production with natural gas. Adding solar energy to the grid will reduce loading.

We have seen the results of demand exceeding capabilities in other parts of the country. Iowa has a history of forward thinking, and we need to prepare for unforeseen circumstances.

On the heels of the historic derecho storm that devastated parts of Iowa last year, the resiliency and security of our electric grid was put in the spotlight. The fact so many Iowans were without power for extended periods of time underscored the need for more distributed energy and microgrids to aid in disaster preparedness.

At a time when we should be encouraging the deployment of more distributed generation, such as solar energy, our state solar tax credit program is in limbo. Currently, the state tax credit program — capped at just $5 million annually — is near the cap for both 2020 and 2021 due to the lengthy wait list. Because it is coupled with the federal tax credit, anyone on the waiting list when the federal tax credit phases out is at risk of not receiving their state tax credit.

We should not let this happen. I respectfully ask our state leaders to decouple Iowa’s program from the federal government through House File 221 so we can be in control of our own energy destiny and to increase the program cap so we can incentivize more local investments that support a reliable energy grid.

Eric Wessels
Dallas Center

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