Iowa Solar Energy System Tax Credit Benefits Agricultural Operations in Iowa

Lawmakers, solar installers, project developers, and electric cooperative members recently took a tour of solar installments in northwest Iowa.

The Center for Rural Affairs recently hosted a tour of solar projects installed in northwest Iowa.

Staff members were joined by several members of the Iowa legislature and a representative from Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office. Solar installers, project developers, and members of the local electric cooperative were also on hand.

In 2012, the Iowa legislature created the Iowa Solar Energy System Tax Credit. Designed to encourage local investment, the credit offsets up to 15 percent of the cost of a new installation. Legislators included limits of $5,000 per home or $20,000 per business to ensure accessibility.

This incentive led to 2,524 new solar projects between 2012 and 2016. The new installments are spread across the state, with at least one in 97 of Iowa’s 99 counties. In total, the $16.4 million provided by the solar tax incentive has generated $123,248,595 of private investment.

One project is located on the Joe and Dianne Rotta farm near Merrill, Iowa. The Rottas farm 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans and have a 24,000 hog operation.

In cooperation with a local solar developer, they recently built a combined 121 kilowatt (kW) installment to meet their energy needs. They used net metering, and any excess is banked for use during the harvest season when grain drying and augering systems increase energy demand.

The farm has been in Dianne’s family since 1884. During that time, it has seen a lot of changes.

During the tour, Joe and Dianne listed the reasons why solar worked for them. They pointed to independence and the ability to act as their own electric provider. They acknowledged the flexibility and autonomy. But in the end, it came down to cost.

“Once it’s paid off, it’s yours,” Dianne explained. “We would not have went forward unless it made sense financially. We see this primarily as a way to control inputs and lower costs.”

Because of the Iowa Solar Energy System Tax Credit, the pay-off period is shorter than ever, according to Johnathan Hladik, Center for Rural Affairs policy director. Combining a state or local incentive with the federal investment tax credit…

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