The Great Plains Institute is engaging local governments across the Upper Midwest on long-term planning for renewable energy. As part of this effort, we developed a guide to provide communities in Iowa with an overview of long-term utility- and community-scale solar and wind development—systems sized one megawatt (MW) or greater.  

The guide provides a summary of key topics important to developing solar and wind in Iowa: 

  • Renewable energy siting authority 
  • Taxation and local revenue 
  • Solar and wind resources in Iowa 
  • Existing solar and wind projects in Iowa 
  • Market trends for Iowa’s solar and wind 

The guide also provides information and resources on energy siting, policy, taxation, and incentives for solar and wind in Iowa. 

Download “Siting Utility-Scale Solar and Wind in Iowa: A Guide for Local Governments.” Additional information is being developed on discrete siting or ordinance topics that are evolving as the solar industry grows, such as decommissioning considerations, waste disposal (panel replacement or repowering), and integration of battery storage in large-scale projects and hybrid project development. 

Solar and wind energy, resources that are abundant throughout the state of Iowa, are among the least expensive forms of electric generation in the countryand costs of both solar and wind energy systems are forecast to continue decliningMarket activity in renewable energy development is expected to continue increasing well into the future. 

Understanding the long-term market context helps communities make informed decisions in evaluating renewable energy proposals and creating plans about how future development should happen. For example, while wind energy deployment is rapidly increasing in Iowa, the state’s total solar development could increase over the next five to seven years as the Midwest is an increasingly attractive location for wholesale solar market developments. Figure 1 shows the solar and wind projects in Iowa that are in the region’s public interconnection queue (of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator)which is a required process for new generators to interconnect to the region’s transmission system. 

Figure 1. Midcontinent Independent System Operator Queue of Solar and Wind Projects in Iowa

Wind and solar siting queue: Iowa

Source: Adapted from Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) public interconnection queue dataset, accessed January 2020.

 Additional guides will be available soon for Minnesota, Wisconsin, and additional states in the region.  

Download the Iowa Utility-Scale Wind and Solar Siting Guide

We also created a three-part series about increasing long-term market understanding in communities that can help them be prepared for utility-scale wind and solar project siting in the Midwest: 

  • Part one focused on market forces and increasing the need for local communities to incorporate and plan for large-scale renewable deployment. 
  • Part two helped describe the adjacent conditions and constraints that can help inform community decisions around utility-scale siting and begin conversations to prepare for long-term pressures and opportunities. 
  • Part three addressed what local communities can do to increase readiness for project development. 

If you are interested in hosting a utility-scale wind or solar workshop or would like more information on resources available (and relevant) to your specific community, please reach out to: 

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