The state has won a federal Department of Energy grant of just over $1-million as part of what’s called the “Rooftop Solar Challenge Two.”  Iowa Department of Economic Development Authority spokesperson, Tina Hoffman, says the goal is to increase the use of solar energy.  “We’re going to be able to help make it easier for Iowans to learn about solar and help reduce the soft costs, making it more affordable,” Hoffman says.

The first step is developing ways to promote the use of sun power. “We are going to help first educate and increase the awareness around solar energy and how it really can be a viable alternative,” Hoffman explains. “And we also are going to directly work with communities around the state to help them look at their requirements and permitting and those kinds of things to help reduce the soft costs that are associated with going through that process.”

The program here is called the Iowa Statewide Solar Readiness Initiative, and several local governments have already volunteered to host pilot programs to develop solar power.  “The City of Cedar Rapids, the City of Des Moines and Dubuque, Floyd County, Linn County among others have already said ‘yeah’ they want to work with us on      looking at their processes and helping to bring some education to folks in their communities about this issue,” Hoffman says.

Iowa has seen big investments in wind power in the last decade, and Hoffman says the state also has a lot of potential for solar power. “Iowa is ranked 16th in terms of solar potential, so we certainly have room to grow and increase our use of solar energy in Iowa,” she says. The federal grant for the solar initiative will be used over 3 years.