THE IOWA POLICY PROJECT
Can solar energy help build the Iowa economy? This analysis answers that question with a resounding “Yes.” Iowa has almost all the right ingredients on hand: demonstrated ability to be a renewable energy leader with wind power, a solar energy industry that already employs people across the state, and more sunshine than New Jersey or Germany, both leading global solar markets. Solar is taking off in the Midwest. The industry is creating jobs and economic growth in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, which have passed legislation to drive demand for solar power.1 Iowa can cash in on the opportunity to create jobs and generate economic activity, if supported by appropriate state policy.
This report examines the potential job creation and economic activity that would result from installing 300 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on homes, farms, business and public buildings across Iowa over the next five years. Three hundred megawatts of solar power was set as a reasonable, yet robust target that would have a minimal impact on costumer rates.2 Table 1 lists the megawatts that would be installed each year to reach this goal. Economic output modeling for the development of 300 MW of solar energy finds that in year five of the program, the equivalent of almost 5,000 jobs would be created and over $332 million in value would be added to Iowa’s economy. (See Fig. 1, right, and Table 2, p. 2.)
This report explains the potential job creation and economic impacts of a robust solar industry in Iowa based on input-output modeling undertaken by Iowa State University economist David Swenson. The report also profiles Iowa’s nascent solar industry. The report concludes with a discussion of what policies have successfully spurred solar industries in neighboring states and what policies are necessary to help Iowa reap the full economic benefit from solar power.
About the Iowa Policy Project
“The Iowa Policy Project (IPP) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 2001 to produce research and analysis to engage Iowans in state policy decisions. IPP focuses on tax and budget issues, the Iowa economy, and energy and environmental policy.”