IAMU teams up with Iowa Economic Development Authority on DOE rooftop solar initiative

The Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU) and the Iowa Economic Development Authority are partnering on a Department of Energy initiative to spur solar power deployment across the nation. Continue reading

Governor Dayton signs solar energy standard

Minnesota’s investor-owned utilities will be required to get 1.5 percent of their power from solar energy by 2020 under legislation signed by Gov. Mark Dayton. The solar energy standard also sets a statewide goal of reaching 10 percent by 2030.

PhotovoltaikThe proposal was championed by the Minnesota Clean Energy and Jobs campaign. The coalition says the law takes Minnesota farther down the road to a clean, renewable energy future by making solar energy cheaper and more accessible for consumers, while creating well-paying, permanent jobs across the state.

Now the group is calling for raising Minnesota’s renewable energy standard to 40 percent by 2030. The state’s current standard requires utilities to get 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources including wind, solar and biomass by 2025.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press

Key Renewable Energy Incentive Set to Expire

The wind industry is fighting to hold on to the production tax credit (PTC) now set to expire December 31st. It says it does not need the support indefinitely—only until it can compete with fossil fuels on its own.  As with other subsidies for alternative energy, it has been targeted by critics because of the high-profile failure of the federal DOE investment in the now bankrupt solar company Solyndra.

The PTC has become a contentious issue in the presidential campaign. President Obama supports an extension, while Governor Romney says it should be allowed to expire. However, some Republicans support extending the credit as long as it includes a defined phase-out over a set number of years.

The growth of both wind and solar in recent years is due to a number of factors, including a steep decline in prices for solar photovoltaic panels as well as increased efficiency in newer panels.  Although neither solar nor wind can provide the 24/7 energy necessary for reliability of service to consumers, and they still cost significantly more than conventional resources, their affordability has improved  in recent years.

PTC supporters make a strong argument for the need for public policy that levels an energy playing field they contend is slanted toward conventional fuels. Oil and gas interests claim that eliminating or reducing their current incentives would only increase energy prices as well as possibly put a damper on the current production boom that has made the United States the number two producer in the world, behind only Saudi Arabia.

The country needs a true “all of the above” national energy policy. Both candidates say that is what they will support. Neither the President nor his challenger have shown they are ready to back up those words with actions. Hopefully that will change going into 2013, regardless of who wins next week.