The Iowa Policy Project (IPP) released a report today in conjunction with several environmental groups that says the state could create thousands of jobs by investing money in solar power. IPP executive director, David Osterberg, says the study shows the jobs could be created by slowly ramping up the investment in solar energy over five years.
Osterberg says if you ramp up to about 300 megawatts of solar-powered electricity by the fifth year, you would be creating nearly five-thousand jobs. He says 2,700 of the jobs would be directly related to the people who are installing and setting up the solar projects.
The other jobs would be related to the manufacturing of the solar materials. The study was conducted by Iowa State University researcher David Swenson and says the plan would result in $174-million value added to the economy; $302-million in increased industrial output, and $99-million in increased labor income.
Osterberg says the easiest way to get the project rolling would be for the state to create a pool of $10-million that would be used to pay homeowners to help offset the cost of installing solar panels. He says the plan would give people a set amount of money for installing a solar panel. Osterberg says the price of solar panels has been coming down significantly, but is still expensive and the payment would help homeowners, as well as libraries and industries.
Former University of Iowa football player, Tim Dwight, now owns a solar development company, and says it’s a way to take control of the volatile energy markets. Dwight says this type of bill will start the industry and show how everyone can make it happen. “We’re seeing interesting times ahead of use, just looking back at what’s happened around the world in the last two weeks with energy security,” Dwight said.
Dwight is an Iowa City native, and says solar power is a major untapped source of power and development for the state. He says he got into the industry because he saw job creation and that we were not harvesting one of the most abundant resources available. Dwight says Iowans will see the opportunity “once we get this baby going.”
The report says that solar markets flourish where good policy has made solar energy accessible and offered reasonable incentives to drive private investment in solar technology. Osterberg pointed out that several solar projects are already in use in Iowa. The report shows at least 25 Iowa businesses and nonprofits and 16 Iowa universities, colleges, community colleges, schools and libraries, as well as many private homes, use solar energy.
It focuses on three examples: Allsteel in Muscatine, Marshalltown Public Library, and a home in Spencer. You can see the entire report on the Iowa Policy Project website at: www.iowapolicyproject.org. I-P-P partnered with the Iowa Environmental Council , the Environmental Law & Policy Center and The Vote Solar Initiative on the report.