Monday, October 13, 2014

Iowa Renewables Update For October 2014

I’m still working on a tax and regulatory post to explain why current state and federal policy discourages farmer owned renewables (it also discourages business and individual renewable systems). That will be posted sometime after harvest. Is there a tax professional out there interested in co-authoring a piece?  Here are some “around the interweb” items and thoughts about farmers and climate policy in the meantime.  

 Nathanael Johnson called on farmers to march at the recent climate rally , and spent some time discussing Iowa farmers. Grist is a great source for energy and climate writing. However, this post was particularly interesting to this farmer. Johnson correctly points out the disconnect between Greens and Farmers. Asking farmers to attend a climate rally scheduled in the middle of harvest is an excellent example of this (Sorry Nathanael, just couldn’t resist). 
His closing statement also caught my eye -  “In the past greens have largely dismissed conventional farmers because we’ve thought they were opposed to our goals. But if agriculture emerges as a true political power against global warming, greens will be ready to listen when farmers say, “Hey, you should be giving us some credit for our environmental efforts.”  I’ve found state and federal level green groups have indeed been dismissive of farmer owned renewables in the past as well (with at least 1 exception). I know quite a few of them, and have found them mainly enamored with  controlling emission levels, energy efficiency, utility scale wind – transmission lines, and lately solar leasing…but not focused on the barriers to farmer renewables.  These positions haven’t built much public support in the voting booth for climate policy and renewables.   
 Ag groups haven't had farmer renewables on their priorities list either, but that might finally be changing now that some farmers are starting to push them. , So, maybe Greens and Agriculture might have an issue they could agree on. I’m guessing German Farmers did march in this rally calling for moving Germany to 100% renewables. After all, farmers are major players in renewables there. In the Midwest, not so much.  

Who knows, if Greens and Ag could actually agree on this issue , maybe these groups could start to find consensus on the tougher climate policy goals we need. A lot of farmers are ready to do their part, Sadly, public policy isn't ready for them.    

Elsewhere, a utility funded study says their customers with solar installations help – not harm utility ratepayers.  

The Iowa Utilities Board is currently conducting a review of state Distributed Generation policy, and it appears they will do little to help farmer owned renewables in this docket. Feed in Tariffs, and statewide net metering will be not be taken up, and there’s no guarantee they will standardize interconnection procedures either.   In the past, the board has suggested the legislature take up some of these issues. Look for a full post on this.

There seems to be a lot of misinformation circulating in U.S. media on the German renewable revolution. This blog by Craig Morris is a good place to get the facts.

Iowa could only manage a number 30 rating on this “best state to locate your clean energy company” list. Sigh.

Iowa farmer opposition to a new transmission line continues. 

The positive uplifting link in this post, if you’re checking such things, is the above link on Marching German farmers. Thanks for stopping by the blog.  

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