Iowa’s combination of environmental treasures, challenges and opportunities make the state a key part of ELPC’s advocacy to achieve environmental progress and economic development together. ELPC works in Iowa to:
- Advance renewable wind and solar energy and energy efficiency — ELPC is working hard to advance policies and programs that bring clean energy to Iowa. For example, ELPC helped create Iowa’s solar tax credit program in 2012 and then expand it multiple times since then. The program has performed remarkably well, providing $11.6 million in disbursements that resulted in over $85 million in total investment and 1,800 solar projects as of the end of 2015. That means more dollars in Iowa’s economy and more jobs for Iowans. ELPC also advocates for solar, wind and energy efficiency advances in proceedings before the Iowa Utilities Board. For example, our expert analysis is critical to ensuring that utilities like Interstate Power & Light and MidAmerican Energy provide robust energy efficiency programs to residential and business customers. As a result of our advocacy, there is increased emphasis on energy-saving LED lights, expanded information-sharing about customer energy use, improved evaluation and measurement, and increased energy savings for consumers.
- Advance high-speed rail— ELPC is working to build public and legislative support for the necessary funding to create modern passenger rail that would connect Iowa with Omaha, Chicago and the Midwest. This project would create jobs, spur investment, prevent pollution and provide an alternative to increasingly expensive and inconvenient air and road travel. At ELPC’s urging, Amtrak has completed studies for service between Chicago and Iowa City via the Quad Cities, and the Iowa Department of Transportation has begun the final round of engineering on higher-speed passenger rail service from the Quad Cities to Iowa City. Learn more on our high-speed rail page.
ELPC partners with the Iowa Environmental Council, Sierra Club, Iowa Policy Project, Iowa Interfaith Power and Light, Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association, Iowa Wind Energy Association and other state and local groups to achieve progress. We are particularly engaged in collaborative work in energy efficiency and renewable energy cases before the Iowa Utilities Board, a technical advisory committee on nutrient trading convened by the Iowa League of Cities, and the stakeholder meetings to implement the federal Clean Power Plan.
- Solar Energy– In 2015, ELPC attorneys represented a coalition of solar businesses and environmental groups in protecting a 2014 Iowa Supreme Court victory allowing third party financing for solar projects. The favorable 4-2 ruling from the Iowa Supreme Court removed regulatory barriers that Iowa utilities were seeking to impose on solar energy development. The decision will result in reduced up-front costs, opening up the solar market to a larger audience. In response, Interstate Power and Light Company told customers that wanted to use this financing mechanism that they were not eligible for net metering, a key policy to make the economics of many solar projects work. After our coalition filed to challenge IPL’s position in front of the Iowa Utilities Board, IPL reversed its position and allowed net metering with third party financing.
- Clean Water– ELPC is a leading expert in the often-ignored “anti-degradation” standard required by the Clean Water Act to help keep clean water clean. ELPC worked with Iowa’s environmental leaders to successfully design, advance and ultimately adopt a good policy in 2010. After the standard’s passage, naysayers continued to challenge it, even going so far as to issue intrusive subpoenas to intimidate local environmentalists. ELPC defended both the standard itself, as well as the targeted environmentalists, winning important court decisions on the matter in 2011, 2012 and 2014. Once the standards were upheld by the courts, we turned to watchdogging the Iowa Department of Natural Resource’s enforcement of those standards. In 2016, we won an important court case that compelled the agency to enforce the law.
- Clean Energy– In 2013, MidAmerican Energy decided against building a new nuclear plant and refunded $8.8 million to Iowa ratepayers. The decision ended a 3-year debate over the plant’s financial feasibility. ELPC and a coalition of public interest, consumer and environmental groups united in opposition to the proposed nuclear plant, which would have shifted the financial burden and risk away from investors and instead onto Iowa ratepayers. ELPC advocated fully considering and implementing renewable energy and energy efficiency options. Around the same time, MidAmerican announced a $1.9 billion investment in Iowa wind projects – the biggest single economic investment ever in the state.
- Farm Energy – In Iowa, we are especially focused on the efficient and effective implementation of the federal Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which provides grant and loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to help produce clean energy and improve energy efficiency. REAP is a diverse program that has supported all clean energy technologies and can serve every agricultural sector. In Iowa, REAP awarded 1,400 projects worth $30 million in grants between 2008 and 2015.
For other victories, visit our impacts page.
ELPC’s Iowa Office
505 Fifth Avenue, 3rd Floor
Des Moines, IA 50309
Key program staff working in Iowa
ELPC’s multi-disciplinary staff, Board and Advisory Councils work throughout the Midwest to help solve environmental problems.