Friday, January 17, 2014

Iowa Renewable Energy Policy Update January 2014

Happy New Year readers. As the Iowa legislative session starts, we small scale – local owned wind and solar fans once again hope for Iowa legislators to advance last years feed in tariff proposal. At last Wednesdays Senate agriculture committee meeting, Chairman Joe Seng announced his wish to do just that. Utility lobbyists are now attending Agriculture committee meetings, so it looks as though those committee members can look forward to lots of lobbying by utility interests. 

It looks like there will be an eminent domain bill in response to Clean Line Energy’s wish to build a privately owned transmission line across Iowa. 

I’m also working on an update to the MidAmerican wind property tax issue. I’ve attended my local county supervisors meeting and met with the Iowa Department of Revenue on this issue. I’ve posted about this item here ad nauseam. I think energy wonks will enjoy the next update though. 

The Iowa Supreme Court will hear a dispute between utilities and advocates for the leasing of solar PV systems. Thanks for this link IRENEW. John Farrell clearly favors policy encouraging ownership of solar. In the interest of full disclosure, I also favor ownership over leasing. I’d encourage readers to try and convince me otherwise. My interweb searching also found this post- Why Treasury Is Investigating SolarCity and Solar Third-Party Funds while looking for additional information on this issue.  Solar leasing proponents will also be advocating at the Iowa legislature this session. 

There’s a lot of good reading available for distributed generation fans these days. An Indiana legislator has introduced a feed in tariff bill (are you paying attention Iowa legislators?). Paul Gipe has a post at National Geographic “Time to Break Free of Net-Metering; We Need a “FIT” Policy for Renewable Energy to Soar”. I’ve posted before about the difference between feed in tariffs and net metering. I’ve seen the two policies as complimentary in the past. But, as Paul notes, feed in tariffs are responsible for 70% of renewable installations worldwide. Net metering accounts for 2%. Look for an in-depth post about this here soon. The utilities have been vocal about how unfair net metering is to them lately. Barry Goldwater Jr. in AZ. Isn’t buying it.  A quote from the Paul Gipe post. “Maybe the electric utilities are right, for a change.”  Quickly followed by “If they are right about net-metering, it’s for all the wrong reasons. They want to stop solar photovoltaics (solar PV) now. They want to put it in the grave before it takes even more market share from their comfy business. Climate change and future generations be damned. Maybe we should let them. I can hear the howls of derision from the usual suspects: the solar PV industry, the solar leasing companies, and their sycophants in the advocacy community.” 

I also found a post about the history of solar policy in the U.S. -  “How Ronald Reagan Turned Out the Lights on Solar Power”. After reading, it seems clear that Presidents Nixon and Carter weren’t very helpful to solar Research and Development either. As discussed in the post, The U.S. passed on leading in solar technology. Germany, with their feed in tariff policy, and Japan, with tech advancements, can largely claim credit for the 70% reduction in solar installation costs worldwide. How much longer will the U.S. continue to pass on good renewable energy policy?  
These posts should keep you busy for now. Thanks for stopping by!           

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