Now is a great time to Go Solar! Prices have dropped dramatically over the years, a competitive local market includes numerous high-quality contractors, and the tax credits are still available.
We recommend you act now if possible because utility and policy actions could significantly alter the financials, and begin to close the door on the solar energy prosperity opportunity.
Step 1: LEARN
We also have a page covering tax incentives, and another about net metering and interconnection, which are critical pieces of the financial puzzle.
The Iowa Energy Center’s Solar PV Energy Guide is a very thorough resource worth studying, but don’t get overwhelmed. Many issues it raises will be covered when you reach out for technical assistance in the next step.
Finally, feel free to contact your Energy District with questions, or for a solar site assessment (described below):
Joel Zook, Energy Planner
Winneshiek Energy District
(563) 382-4207 ext 3
Step 2: PLAN … and IMPLEMENT
Let the professionals help walk you through the process. Your Energy District offers an affordable solar site assessment and report, that is a good place to start for many.
We are fortunate to have a number of highly-qualified solar contractors, and you can also start your planning process by getting bids. Most contractors will conduct a site assessment, provide decent financials, and be willing to answer your initial questions and concerns at no cost.
Need finance? Shop Local! Decorah Bank and Trust is a major sponsor of Winneshiek Energy District and a solar owner. They know the value of solar (and energy efficiency) to homes and businesses, have provided over $5 million of clean energy lending, and have an energy loan specialist ready to talk to you.
In addition to the initial logistical and financial considerations, as you move through the process you’ll want to be sure to understand the utility tariff and interconnection issues. Eventually, you’ll need to touch bases directly with your utility before proceeding, but a solar site assessor or contractor is often a good place to start the planning.
Step 3. ADVOCATE
Solar energy is a powerful “green meets green” strategy for citizens and communities everywhere.
The green of local energy prosperity represents the millions of dollars of investment that can create jobs and keep energy dollars local in every community and county in the country, to steadily growing impact, for generations. The green of climate stewardship represents steady reduction of greenhouse gases with every solar panel installed and the commitment to a livable world for our kids.
However, the profits and share values of investor-owned utilities depend upon growing sales, and customer-owned solar is not helpful to their business model. A new Iowa law, passed unanimously by both houses in March 2020, requires investor-owned utilities to offer some form of net-metering for at least seven years. Solar installed in that time will be allowed to net-meter for their useful lifespan. This is a great win for consumers and the solar community!
Don’t let utilities monopolize the sun! Watch for alerts from your energy district and other clean energy advocates, and be in touch with your elected officials to protect grid access on fair terms and energy freedom.