Powering Iowa’s 99 Counties
John Rigler III has always been intrigued by alternative energy. So, when it came time to redo his bank’s roof, the decision to invest in solar energy was easy for Rigler, President and COO of Peoples Bank.
“Solar is a good option for small businesses and really any business just because of the consistency and reliability it provides,” Rigler said. “Businesses have to manage their expenses and this is one expense variable that you can take out of your income and expense statement.”
Solar energy is now booming in both rural and urban parts of the state. Ranging from hog barns to housetops, Iowans are investing in solar energy in all 99 counties. Hear how solar works for Iowa and is a smart financial choice for farmers, homeowners and business owners.
TNC Launches Group Buy Programs in Iowa to Promote Clean Energy
With a growing interest in solar in the state, The Nature Conservancy in Iowa decided to launch Solarize Waukee and Grow Solar Linn County, two solar group buy programs. Focusing on Dallas and Linn Counties, TNC in Iowa worked with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and other partners to raise awareness of solar energy in both rural and urban communities.
“By bringing communities together and investing wisely, we can build a prosperous clean energy future where nature and people thrive," said Patrick Snell, External Affairs Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy in Iowa. “The Solarize Waukee initiative aims to demystify the financial and logistical challengers of installing solar power and give communities the information they need to make an informed decision.”
Group buy programs provide residents and businesses with the opportunity to invest in high-quality, renewable energy solar installations with potential savings on installation costs, while also helping reach sustainability goals. This type of program combines volume purchasing with community education to make solar more accessible and affordable for area property owners.
The Power of Solar Education
Due to its innovative nature, many people have lots of questions about solar energy and its overall process. To fill the education gap, program coordinators of Solarize Waukee and Grow Solar Linn hosted free informational sessions called Solar Power Hours, where they gave a brief explanation of the program, discussed the projected costs of installing solar and highlighted the benefits of going solar. This allowed potential participants to ask questions and learn more about solar before officially signing into the program.
Solarize Waukee had over 260 people attend a Power Hour; 29 households, three commercial businesses and one church ultimately participated in the program. Overall, this participation totaled 270 kW of solar power.
Grow Solar Linn County hosted Solar Power Hours in 19 different locations and drew in almost 400 attendees. They wrapped up the program with 98 properties achieving 780.56 kW of new solar to be installed on properties. In the first year of operation, the solar arrays installed will offset emissions equivalent to 724,118 lbs of coal burned and will save an estimated $126,450 in electric bills. This marks the second group buy program in the area, the first being Solarize Cedar Rapids & Linn County in 2017. The 2019 program has built upon the previous programs success, with nearly 1,380 kW of solar installed through the group buy programs and have helped 200 properties add solar.
Impact of Solar for Businesses and Homeowners
In Iowa, there was a clear indication that the environmental and financial benefits of solar energy appealed to both businesses and homeowners. With the launch of the programs, home and commercial property owners had access to competitive prices for solar installations, while also bringing cleaner energy to the state.
“We are proud to participate in the Solarize Waukee program by installing solar at our pre-owned lot,” said Jason Willis, Dealer Principal at Willis Automotive. “Solar not only helps our organization meet its sustainability goals, but also provides savings that we can reinvest in our people and local community.”
Iowa is leading the way on energy innovation by harnessing the power of the sun and redefining what’s possible for our clean energy future.