How would you like to generate solar energy to run your home or fuel your car? Would you like to store it away for a rainy day or sell to a power company? How about joining a kind of solar cooperative, where you buy or lease solar panels at a community-owned site?
When Iowa City created a climate action plan back in 2018, increasing energy efficiency and transitioning to renewable energy got top billing. Since then, the outlook for solar energy has only grown: it is becoming the most affordable form of electricity and could stabilize energy costs in the future; it could increase self-reliance when energy grids go down; it could produce good-paying jobs; and, most important, it could help us avoid catastrophic climate change.
Last summer, the Johnson Clean Energy District (JCED) pulled together a group of solar experts to consider Iowa City’s options for expanding solar in the community. Johnson County’s “Grow Solar” campaign is bringing solar panels to many more homes in the area, but other options have seemed stalled. What would it take to add 100 MW of solar energy to our energy portfolio in the coming decade – can the transmission lines handle it, where would it be, who would use it, what would it cost?
Over the winter, a formal exploration of these questions began. The study is led by JCED, City of Iowa City, and the University of Iowa, along with solar experts Warren McKenna, David Osterberg, and Steve Fugate. Other participants are Johnson County, the Iowa City Community School District, MidAmerican and Eastern Iowa Light and Power.
One of the most critical elements of the study is community input. The Iowa City Council is very interested in hearing from residents, businesses, non-profits, and others about their level of knowledge, interest, preferences, and challenges.
A survey designed for this purpose is linked below. It is being distributed as broadly as possible to Iowa City residents and businesses. It is anonymous and only takes about 10 minutes. The survey is open from April 27 through Mother’s Day, May 9.
Please click here to take the survey.
Guest blog submitted by Cheryl Miller.