Energy and Climate Priorities
The Energy Program will advocate for and support policies that encourage Iowa's transition from fossil fuels to to 100% clean energy including wind, solar and energy efficiency, in a way that benefits Iowa’s environment, economy, health and quality of life.
Our policy goals in 2019-2020 will involve protection and implementation of existing policies, but will also be focused on moving Iowa forward in this pivotal moment for clean energy.
The Council will advocate for policies and practices at the local, state, and federal level that encourage development of distributed renewable energy generation and large-scale renewable energy projects with the long-term goal of reaching 100% renewable electricity. We anticipate focusing on the following:
- Improve access to renewables by expanding and improving clean energy tax incentives for communities, businesses, and individuals to own or invest in wind, solar, and other renewable energy technologies. This includes increasing funds available for the Iowa upfront solar tax incentive, expanding and extending the Iowa production tax incentive, working with the utilities and legislature to encourage community solar, and protecting federal tax incentives for renewable energy.
- Protect and expand policies that support distributed renewables, including net metering, interconnection rules, rate design, and local policies. Watchdog implementation of the Alliant and MidAmerican three-year net metering pilot tariffs (2017 to approximately 2020). Advocate for utility rate design that encourages customer investment in renewable energy as well as energy efficiency. Ensure cities and counties adopt zoning and siting policies that encourage local wind and solar development.
- Intervene in county and state approval processes to support utility-scale wind and solar projects.
- Develop and roll out a toolkit of materials with information to combat wind opposition, including: a best practices guide for counties for wind siting in Iowa, county-level fact sheets on tax revenues and benefits to local infrastructure, a literature review of research findings about wind turbine health effects, and a summary of Iowa wind's critical role in meeting necessary climate pollution reductions.
- Ensure sufficient high-voltage transmission lines exist to allow for significant additions of wind power, such as reaching 10,000 megawatt and 20,000 megawatt milestones of wind capacity in Iowa. Transmission constraints are already limiting wind energy development, but specific proposals are moving forward to facilitate more wind. Evaluate and improve these proposals and support them before state and federal agencies when appropriate.
Intervene in the current energy efficiency plan proceedings before the Iowa Utilities Board to improve the proposed programs as much as possible and to build the case for future legislation.
Work with allies to develop policy and strategy to restructure and rebuild energy efficiency programs in a way that benefits all customers.
Focus on educating policymakers and the public about energy efficiency – what it is for, what it achieves, and who benefits.
Coordinate and assist with local efforts to move forward on energy efficiency.
Reduce the energy use of buildings with energy and building codes.
Emerging Technology and complementary clean energy policies
We recognize that there are dynamic and fast-changing energy technologies, markets, and strategies at play and want to be flexible in specific areas. Depending on the pace of change, we may spend more or less time in the following areas:
As Iowa’s transition to clean energy continues, new technologies and strategies may be needed or be useful in integrating higher levels of wind and solar. The Council will further investigate and support these technologies and strategies where appropriate. We anticipate an expanded role for energy storage technologies, grid modernization, and strategic electrification, in which there are benefits to converting other fuel uses to electricity (e.g., natural gas heating to electric heating or liquid fuel vehicles to electric vehicles).
The Council will support the work of our partners on a range of complementary policies and practices that are both environmentally and economically sustainable. For example, the Council will support policies to expand passenger transit choices such as bus and rail and reduce vehicle miles traveled, and will further explore policies that offer a soil carbon sequestration, soil conservation, and clean water benefit.
Retire existing coal plants
Iowa still relies on many aging and highly polluting coal plants that were built in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. The Council will support efforts to retire these coal plants or re-power them with cleaner fuels.