Iowa could create thousands of new jobs and economic benefits by incentivizing the development of solar power, according to a new report from the Iowa Policy Project, in collaboration with Environment Iowa, Environmental Law and Policy Center and The Vote Solar Initiative.Iowa has the right ingredients to develop a solar industry, the report stated. Those qualities include:
- demonstrated ability to be a renewable energy leader with wind power;
- a solar energy industry that already employs people across the state;
- more sunshine than New Jersey or Germany, both leading global solar markets;
A job-impact analysis by Iowa State University researcher David Swenson, included in the report, found that during the fifth year of a program to install 300 megawatts of solar power in Iowa, the equivalent of almost 5,000 jobs would be created and over $332 million in value added to Iowa’s economy.
During the five years the average annual impact would be:
- $174 million value added to the economy
- $302 million increased industrial output
- $99 million increased labor income
Those numbers include sizable indirect effects — spinoff economic effects caused by the initial investment.
“If we incentivize solar today, I could go out and hire loads and loads of people,” Tim Dwight, the Hawkeye football hero-turned green entrepreneur, told IEF on in January. If Iowa fails to incentivize, he added, “we’re going to be losing people to other states.”
In late January, Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, introduced a bill that would establish a state solar and small wind energy rebate program and fund that would offer financial incentives for Iowans to install solar hot water and photovoltaic systems in the commercial, agriculture and residential sectors.
“Solar energy could be the next new engine of job creation for Iowans, provided we seize the opportunities in front of us,” he said. “Growth in the solar industry means good paying jobs for many people in our local communities: electricians, builders, plumbers, contractors, engineers, technicians and salespeople.”