Iowa economic development officials tentatively are endorsing a tax credit for battery storage to complement the state’s wind and solar generation. The tax credit is one of several recommendations made in a recent report on energy storage opportunities by the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Others include targeting grant money and conducting additional research, including a “value of storage” analysis. “We are seeking to move the needle,” said Brian Selinger, who, as the agency’s energy team leader, was involved in developing the Energy Storage Action Plan. Storage was highlighted in a 2016 state energy plan.
Iowa clean energy advocates suspect the state’s largest utility is secretly behind a new organization claiming to represent farmers, consumers and businesses that oppose the state’s solar policies. The utility neither confirmed nor denied a role in setting up the group and a spokeswoman for MidAmerican Energy did not directly answer a question about its role in the group. But solar industry supporters said the timing and similarities in messaging suggest a link. “This group didn’t exist until the utilities, particularly MidAmerican, started pushing a bill that would decimate the distributed solar industry in Iowa,” said Josh Mandelbaum, a lawyer with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. In late January, a few weeks before the introduction of two bills that would impose new costs on solar customers, a website and Facebook page surfaced for an organization calling itself the REAL Coalition, which claims it “gives voice to Iowa consumers, farmers and businesses on the energy issues affecting our state.”
The website decries what it calls the “solar cost shift,” and urges legislators to “keep the interests of ALL your constituents in mind and vote YES” on bills moving briskly through both chambers that would impose substantial new fees on electricity customers who generate some of their own power.
As one of the nation’s leading producers of wind energy, Iowa has abundant — but also sporadic — energy resources. State officials see huge potential for batteries to help make the most of its wind and solar generation, and they hope to test it with a new grant-funded project.
IowaWatch Executive Director-Editor Lyle Muller was a guest on Bob Bruce’s radio show on WMT radio on Thursday, Aug. 22, speaking about IowaWatch stories and other topics raised by Bruce. Listen to podcast of that appearance here.
Iowa’s wind energy producers and manufacturers are scrambling to finance new projects in the next two months because they don’t know if the Federal Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit they rely on heavily will be available after then.