February Newsletter Briefs

Action Alert: Save Iowa’s Solar Tax Credit; then Stop Natural Gas Protectionism

Andy Johnson, Executive Director

Iowa’s solar tax credit has been critical to the growth of locally-owned solar in Winneshiek County and throughout Iowa. Thanks to oversubscription and linkage with a phasing out federal credit, its future is in jeopardy.

House File 221 would pay down the wait list, raise the annual cap, and decouple from the federal credit, and needs your support! This Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association page is an excellent resource for explanation, talking points, and legislator contact. Members of the House and (especially) Senate Ways and Means Committees are most critical. Be sure to ask your legislator if they are both supportive of HF221, AND if they are actively working with colleagues for passage.

While you’re asking your elected leadership to support solar tax credits, ask them to oppose the natural gas protectionism of SSB 1126 and HF 555. These companion bills would prohibit cities and counties from regulating natural gas or propane, and are part of a nationwide attack by the gas industry on local clean energy and climate stewardship initiatives. The legislation would pre-empt local control, protect profits of out-of-state investor-owned gas companies over local clean energy wealth and job creation, and open the door for massive gas corporations to sue (or at least threaten) communities over energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts.

Net Metering is Alive and (Mostly) Well in Iowa

Andy Johnson, Executive Director

Regular readers will know that your Energy District has been actively engaged in protecting net metering and locally-owned solar for many years. In March of 2020, the Iowa clean energy community won a great victory with passage of SF 583, which we explained in our blog at the time.

As we cautioned then, the development of actual utility tariffs required vigilance, and we jumped into Utility Board dockets and explained the process in July and October. The tariffs are now approved by the IUB (Alliant hereMidAmerican here (p374-384)). Most issues were satisfactorily resolved, and the new “inflow-outflow” net billing arrangement is explained by our friends at the Iowa Environmental Council. Unfortunately, despite our vigorous objection and testimony, the Utilities Board allowed the utilities to confiscate the renewable energy credits for “outflow” energy of solar owners. We will continue looking for an opportunity to reverse this situation.

What’s the Matter with Texas?

From the climate perspective, there’s a strong case that the polar vortex messed with Texas because Texas messed with the polar vortex.

Once the cold arrived, Texas’ grid failed. The core failure was “baseload” power: natural gas mostly, plus nuclear, and some wind. Better transmission interconnection wouldn’t have solved this, but is clearly important to a national clean energy grid.

Texas regulators should require winterization of the grid’s generation resources. Meanwhile, resilience at the household and community levels will increasingly matter, everywhere.

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