Iowa Rises in Midwest Solar Ranks
by NATHANIEL BAER on Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Iowa has more distributed solar installed than most Midwest states according to data recently released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). This is in part due to significant growth from 2014 to 2015. However, the distributed solar installed in Iowa is still well behind leading states nationally, meaning that Iowa still has some catching up to do.
Between September 2014 and September 2015, Iowa’s distributed solar capacity grew from16.8 megawatts (MW) to 24.3 MW, a 45% increase. These numbers are consistent with the Council’s estimates that Iowa ended 2014 with 20 to 25 MW of solar.
Iowa’s 24.3 MW of distributed solar is higher than many Midwestern states, including Minnesota (17.6 MW), Wisconsin (19.2 MW), Illinois (16.6 MW) and Indiana (8.6 MW). Iowa is just behind Michigan (26.6 MW), and a bit further behind Ohio (59.6 MW) and Missouri (92.4 MW). However, Michigan, Ohio and Missouri saw less growth than Iowa from 2014 to 2015, with averages between 8% and 19%. It is not a stretch to project that Iowa’s growing solar market could catch up in the coming year or two.
Nationally, Iowa remains in the middle of the pack. California, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts and New York take the top five spots with installed distributed solar between 3,057 MW and 379 MW. Other states in the top ten include Maryland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut – all states with solar resources that are comparable or even less favorable than Iowa’s.
A mix of policies and programs are helping grow Iowa’s solar market, as well as the environmental and economic benefits of solar. These include Iowa’s state tax incentives, third party PPA financing, stable net metering policy, and interconnection standards. The Council and partners are working to expand and improve these policies in order to help boost solar installations across the state. While solar has come a long way in Iowa in the past few years, we still have big opportunities in future years.
This is the first time the EIA has released data that allows for a state-by-state comparison of distributed solar PV capacity. The data was included as part of EIA’s regular Electric Power Monthly report, which was released last week. Data referenced in this post may be found in table 6.2B “Net Summary Capacity of Utility Scale Unites Using Primarily Renewable Energy Sources by State.”
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