Support for solar energy is strong in Iowa. In a recent survey, 68 percent of Iowa’s voters said “yes” when asked if they would support solar energy. In Linn County alone 4,000 residents recently signed a petition in support of solar energy here.
Let’s look at why Iowans are embracing solar.
Solar farms do more than generate electricity. Solar power can energize our economy, enhance county services while ensuring we stay true to our agricultural heritage.
Since the 1830s Iowa farmers have decided the best way to make a living and support their families with the land they own. That’s why Iowans see the voluntary leasing of private land for solar as a simple matter of property rights.
Sixty-seven percent of Iowa voters (74 percent in Linn County) agree that “farmers should not be told by the government what to do with their land; they have the right to use their land how they choose: including to develop renewable energy projects.”
It’s easy to see why a farmer might voluntarily choose solar. Many farmers who lease a portion of their land to solar companies are provided with financial security which allows them to continue farming the rest of their land and keep their land in their families.
Proper soil management during the life of a solar farm also contributes to agricultural sustainability. In one of the solar farms planned in Linn County, 70 percent of the site will be planted with pollinator friendly vegetation. The vegetation improves soil conditions, provides better drainage, and prevents erosion. With solar farms practicing good land stewardship, farmers can return to crop farming at the end of the lease, if they wish.
Farmers are not the only Iowans who benefit from solar – everyone gains. Solar farms generate community-wide economic development from just a fraction of county land. Even the largest solar farms use a very small portion of farmland in a county while providing millions of dollars in economic benefits that benefit everyone.
One of those benefits are the millions of dollars in property taxes solar farms pay to counties where they are located throughout their years of operation. That’s revenue that can improve our schools for our children, fix our roads, or be used to purchase equipment for first responders. It could be used for investments in highspeed internet. And that’s without increasing the tax burden on local taxpayers.
Solar energy is also a beacon for attracting new business to our state.
Solar energy is lower in cost than power from coal or natural gas. Many industries, looking to cut costs, want to locate where they can get access to renewable energy.
Ron Corbett, former mayor of Cedar Rapids and speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives put it like this: “Increasingly, businesses looking to grow here will not consider a local development site unless renewable energy is part of the equation.”
Iowans are believers in the free market, and solar energy is what the market is demanding. If we want Iowa to remain an attractive location for new employers, we must offer solar energy.
These are some of the reasons 4,000 Linn County residents signed our petition in support of solar energy in Linn County, and why 68 percent of Iowans are saying “yes” to solar.
You can say “yes” as well. Join us – sign up on our email list to get all the latest information about solar energy in Iowa.