Iowa joins federal effort to make rooftop solar systems more affordable to businesses, homeowners

12 Nov 2013

Article By: DeMoines   |   Donelle Eller


Iowa received $1.03 million in federal funding to make it easier for homeowners and businesses to adopt rooftop solar systems, state and federal leaders said today.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority is one of eight teams sharing about $12 million to streamline and standardize solar permitting, zoning, metering and connection process for communities across the country through the Rooftop Solar Challenge, the U.S. Energy Department said today.

“Iowa has real potential to generate solar energy as another alternative fuel source,” sai Gov. Terry Branstad said in a news statement. “As a leader in wind energy and renewable fuels, Iowa should be at the front of the pack in implementing programs that encourage the use of solar energy as well.”

The Energy Department says it wants to make deployment of solar power “in communities across the country faster, easier and cheaper – saving money and time for local governments, homeowners and businesses.”

The Obama Administration seeks to double renewable electricity generation once again by 2020.

The agency says the federal funding will be matched by about $4 million in outside funding.

The Rooftop Solar Challenge brings together city, county and state officials, regulatory entities, private industry, universities, local utilities and other regional stakeholders to address differing and expensive processes required to install and finance residential and small business solar systems.

During the Challenge’s first round, 22 regional teams worked to dramatically reduce the soft costs of solar – serving as models for other communities across the country, the Energy Department says.

The Iowa Statewide Solar Readiness Initiative – led by the Iowa Economic Development Authority – is a collaborative effort to promote solar energy deployment across the state.

The state agency said the solar readiness group will work directly with several local governments who will serve as pilot organizations to implement measures to reduce barriers to solar installation. This includes Floyd County, Linn County and the cities of Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Dubuque.

In addition, a minimum of two communities serviced by a municipal electrical utility will participate as pilot cities.

The team will work with communities, utilities and other stakeholders to identify policy barriers and potential solutions, create an online solar toolbox and create customized community plans to help cut a range of solar soft costs, the state and federal agencies said.

Those soft costs include expenses like permitting, installation, design and maintenance, which now account for more than 60 percent of the total cost of installed rooftop photovoltaic systems.