Former Hawkeye football star Tim Dwight made a public pitch Tuesday, urging Iowa legislators to invest in solar energy. 

Dwight, who is director of business development for a company called iPower, says Iowa should position itself to be at the epicenter of the solar panel industry. 

“If you look all around us, we’re surrounded by all these other states — Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin — they all have this industry. This industry’s growing all over the world and if we have all these engineers and all these laborers that don’t have an industry to work in, where are they going to go?” Dwight says. “They’re going to go out of state.”

Dwight says having a solar panel to generate electricity for your home is like having a corn field on your roof.

“I mean, this technology is going to get to the point where it’s going to be cheaper to put in a PV and generate your own electricity than to buy (it),” Dwight says.

Dwight’s company — iPower — may open a production facility in Waterloo that would employ up to 20 people. It would be part of the so-called TechWorks center — a 40-acre site that sits next to the John Deere foundry. The TechWorks project’s backers are hoping to land $7 million in state funding, much of it for retooling two huge buildings on the site.

Dwight testified before the Senate Economic Growth Committee earlier this afternoon.  Former Iowa State quarterback Sage Rosenfels was in the room, too.  Rosenfels, a back-up quarterback for the New York Giants, is an investor in Dwight’s company.

“Tim and I grew up in this state.  We went to college here.  We think Iowa is a forward thinking state and when you talk about solar energy or wind energy, you’re not talking about something that’s going to help you in the next year or two or five years,” Rosenfels says. “It’s something that’s going to help us for generations down the line, if not forever.” 

Dwight, a native of Iowa City, and Rosenfels, a native of Maquoketa, have each played for five different teams in the NFL. Rosenfels did not testify at the committee meeting, but spoke with reporters afterwards about state investment in renewable energy. 

“We both feel strongly that the state needs to help its people realize how important it can be,” Rosenfels said.  “But at the very minimum, it’s creating jobs in this state.” 

Rosenfels has been playing the NFL since the 2001 season.  Dwight retired in 2007 after nine seasons in the NFL.