Bill aims to give excess solar energy to low income families


Rep. Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City) is serving her 11th term in the Iowa House of Representatives. (Iowa House Democrats)
Rep. Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City) is serving her 11th term in the Iowa House of Representatives. (Iowa House Democrats)

Nick Fetty | February 24, 2015

A bill introduced by Iowa State Representative Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City) aims to give excess power generated by solar panels to those struggling to afford electricity.

House File 149 – which was introduced earlier this month – would require utility companies that regularly submit efficiency plans to add to their plans a “solar energy bank program” which would assist low-income families and individuals who fall behind on energy payments. This “solar energy bank” would be the excess energy generated by solar panels. Typically excess energy produced is sold back to the utility company. The bill would serve as an extension of the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

“Our LIHEAP monies run out every year before the end of the winter season,” Mascher said in an interview with Midwest Energy News. “We have more need than money to go around. This is another way to generate more energy money – in terms of providing a safety net for those folks. For me, it’s a win-win because the energy company doesn’t have to turn off someone’s power. And the people who need it the most are able to continue to get the power they need.”

Mascher is currently serving her 11th term in the Iowa House of Representatives. The Iowa City native also serves on the Education, Local Government, State Government and Appropriations committees.

More natural resource funds in Iowa


Photo courtesy of the Iowa Farm Bureau; Flickr.
Photo courtesy of the Iowa Farm Bureau; Flickr.

The Iowa Legislature recently agreed to a record $25 million in funding for the state’s Resource Enhancement and Protection program, or REAP, the Des Moines Register reported.

The program is used to enhance and protect Iowa’s natural and cultural resources. There are a number of individual programs within REAP, such as the Environment First Fund or the Restore Iowa Infrastructure Fund.

REAP provides money for projects using state agency budgets or grants. Private contributions may also be made to help REAP accomplish its goals.

Environmental Group Concerned Over Legislation


Photo by Born1945; Flickr

An environmental advocacy group criticized legislation advancing in the Iowa House that would make water-quality data collected in connection with a statewide clean water effort confidential.

To learn more about the bill and its language, head over to the Omaha Herald

Bill boosting solar energy development gets OK from Iowa Senate panel


Solar Panels at Regions Bank in Waterloo, Iowa.  Photo courtesy of Paul McClure; Flickr.
Solar Panels at Regions Bank in Waterloo, Iowa.
Photo courtesy of Paul McClure; Flickr.

Under this bill, Iowa’s investor-owned electrical utilities would be required to provide their customers with 105 megawatts of solar energy.

The bill is aimed at bolstering Iowa’s solar energy industry, the Des Moines Register reported. 

Tim Dwight, the president of the Iowa Solar/Small Wind Energy Trade Association, said the cost of solar energy is dropping on a monthly basis and is becoming a mainstream method of generating electricity.

Head to the Register to find out more.

Water Quality Projects Sought in Iowa


Soap Creek Watershed - Photo by Iowa Flood Center; Flikr
Soap Creek Watershed – Photo by Iowa Flood Center; Flickr

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is seeking applications for targeted watershed demonstration projects focused on water quality. Potential projects have until March 31 to apply for funding.

The projects must be within the nine large priority watersheds that have been identified by the Iowa Water Resources Coordinating Council, department officials say.

Project applications, including a map of priority watersheds, can be found here under “Hot Topics.” They can also be requested by contacting the department’s Division of Soil Conservation at 515-281-5851.

Iowa House & Senate pass pro-ethanol resolution


Photo by InspiredInDesMoines; Flickr

Both the Iowa house and Senate have passed a resolution calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reject its proposed rule which would reduce the amount of ethanol produced in the country.

The resolution passed both the house and senate without a dissenting vote. Continue reading

On the Radio: Iowa Flood Mitigation Board Funding


Photo by w4nd3rl0st (InspiredinDesMoines); Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment covers a new plan by the Iowa government that will assist financially with flood recovery. Continue reading for the transcript, or listen to the audio below.

Continue reading