As I travel Iowa introducing the mission, services and support of The Center, I am frequently asked what accounts for all the activity and growth in the renewable energy sector. While there are a lot of factors, three things stand out in a big way. First, renewable energy technology continues to become more efficient and affordable. A great example is simply the cost and productivity of solar panels. Since 2009, solar panels are over 90 percent cheaper and are increasingly more productive.
Secondly, rising fossil fuels costs and energy market conditions have made renewable energy the most cost effective electric generation alternative. Solar and wind remove fuel cost from electric production expense all together. When it comes to fueling the production of electricity, “free” can’t be beat.
Unarguably, public policy is a third factor driving consumer demand for renewable energy. In early May, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced even more federal support for clean energy. Working through the Rural Utility Service, USDA is standing up two new programs, one called Empowering Rural America, and the other, Powering Affordable Clean Energy. Together, they will make grants and loans available to rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities for renewable energy generation projects and transmission enhancements.
When you combine the three factors driving clean energy investment you can see that the future of renewable energy looks very bright for Iowa and rural communities throughout the nation. Our team at The Center looks forward to helping communities position themselves so that they can reap the benefits of our nation’s commitment to clean energy.