Solar Farming Bans Proposed, Solar Prosperity At Risk Throughout Rural Iowa

Rural Solar Prosperity Under Attack In Iowa; Farm Solar Ban Proposed
Recent years have witnessed a significant rise of anti-solar activism around Iowa (and the Midwest), and the sentiment is spreading to the Legislature. Efforts are afoot that would effectively ban commercial and utility-scale solar throughout the state, and kill a new rural industry, job-creator, and prosperity engine before it even gets off the ground.   SSB 1077 would ban solar from most Iowa farms, and kill many if not most utility solar projects.

Here, we feature original and outside content to discuss the issue, explain where the effort to ban solar farming is coming from, and what your legislators need to understand.

As an introduction and discussion, see

  1. The recent guest column in the Des Moines Register, Limiting Solar In Rural Iowa Is A Bad Idea, by MiEnergy CEO Brian Krambeer, and Clean Energy Districts of Iowa Executive Director Andy Johnson, and
  2. A very specific case of clean energy bringing critical funding to Howard County, in rural northeast Iowa County by Amy Bouska, Chair of the Howard County Energy District (in this case the $$ come from wind, but the funding and prosperity benefits will be similar for solar … if the door isn’t slammed shut by legislators).

Then take a look where the renewables opposition is coming from. Yes, there are rural residents with valid questions and concerns. It is also true, however, that fossil fuel money has very successfully fueled a national anti-renewables movement full of myths and misinformation, hitched itself to the culture wars, and begun to erode the previously strong bipartisan support for renewable energy in Iowa. Rural counties everywhere stand to lose the most.

  1. From Forbes: Fossil-Fuel Funded Opposition Is Blocking America’s Transition. Permitting Reform Can Help.
  2. From NPR: Misinformatin Is Derailing Renewable Energy Projects Across The United States
  3. From Inside Climate News: the series Solar Opposites: A Standoff Over Renewable Energy In Rural America is an excellent a deep dive into a rural Ohio county divided over solar, and includes a special look at a Minnesota County where major solar developments have disproven the naysayers.

Help your legislator understand that the door must remain open to solar at all scales throughout all of Iowa. Rural prosperity is at stake in every single county – and yes, a rapid transition to renewable energy is the right thing to do for climate stewardship and our kid’s future as well. Any effort to prohibit solar farming on “prime farmland” or related to “corn suitability rating” is a poison pill, as is any “setback” from dwellings or ROWs significantly higher than the best practice of 150 feet.

  1. Refer them to the aforementioned guest column in the Des Moines Register, Limiting Solar In Rural Iowa Is A Bad Ideawhich includes the important perspective of a Rural Electric Cooperative
  2. The Great Plains Institute article The True Land Footprint Of Solar Energy is excellent, and includes many resources including a Model Solar Ordinance for Iowa full of sound, common-sense guidance
  3. Iowa legislators may not be inclined to follow their peers in Illinois at every turn, but NPR Illinois explains how a bill awaiting the Governor’s signature could set statewide standards that balance interests, keep the door open for renewable energy at all scales, and support the growth of rural clean energy prosperity for the foreseeable future.
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