Iowa Boosts Solar, Other Clean Energy Incentives

Iowa has passed a law which will mean residents and businesses in the state can apply for tax credits for solar power.

Under the landmark legislation signed into law by Gov.  Terry Branstad (R) solar electric, solar hot water and geothermal systems are now eligible for a state tax credits. The law was passed by the Iowa Senate by 45 votes to 1 and in the Iowa House by 82-14. The Iowa Environmental Council said “the new (solar) tax credit has the potential to rapidly expand Iowans’ use of solar power.”

Wyoming-Solar

image via Southern Company

According to the terms of the bill, homeowners will be eligible for up to $3,000 and businesses up to $15,000. The tax credits will be capped $1.5 million each year. The bill also provides a tax credit of up to 20 percent of a federal tax credit for geothermal heat pumps, and a 10-year property tax exemption for any increased valuation due to geothermal heating or cooling systems.

State Senator Rob Hogg said in a statement posted on his website that he fully supported the move.

“Solar energy works in Iowa. It is clean energy, and it is sustainable for future generations,” the Democrat Senator for Cedar Rapids said.

Iowa is not the only state which has offered its citizens tax credits in a bid to jump start solar development. Last year, the Governor of Georgia Nathan Deal signed off on a law that raised the state’s solar energy tax credit cap from the current $2.5 million per year to $5 million annually for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Under the new law, Georgia businesses can recoup up to $500,000 of the solar generation system installation costs through tax credits, which must be taken over the course of four years. Homeowners in the state are eligible to receive up to $10,500 in tax credits which must also be taken over four years.

Lawmakers in Iowa are hoping the ruling could represent a leap forward for solar power in a state in which wind energy development has so far eclipsed it as the renewable of choice.

Paul Willis has been journalist for a decade. Starting out in Northern England, from where he hails, he worked as a reporter on regional papers before graduating to the cut-throat world of London print media. On the way he spent a year as a correspondent in East Africa, writing about election fraud, drought and an Ethiopian version of American Idol. Since moving to America three years ago he has worked as a freelancer, working for CNN.com and major newspapers in Britain, Australia and North America. He writes on subjects as diverse as travel, media ethics and human evolution. He lives in New York where, in spite of the car fumes and the sometimes eccentric driving habits of the yellow cabs, he rides his bike everywhere.