State Lawmaker Pushes Solar Power

By Katie Wiedemann

DUBUQUE, Iowa - One Iowa lawmaker says he’s practicing what he preaches when it comes to solar energy. State Representative Chuck Isenhart of Dubuque says he installed solar panels on his own home to save himself some money.

The Democrat is a member of the House Environmental Protection Committee and the Economic Development Committee.

The sun plays the starring role in Representative Isenhart’s latest home improvement story.

Isenhart said, “It’s is a small house. By the time all the rebates and credits are over, I think I paid about $1200, only. With the energy I use, I should be able to pay it back in 3 to 4 years. “

Isenhart says earlier this year, the Iowa legislature tripled the amount of money Iowans are able to receive in tax credits for installing solar energy systems.

“For a homeowner the maximum award was increased to $5000. For a business it was increased to $20,000 per project, “said Isenhart.

Critics say even with those incentives, the cost to install panels is more than the average homeowner can afford.

But Solar Company owners disagree.

“There’s very rarely an average homeowner. It’s always site specific,” said Sky Blue Solar owner Raki Giannakouros

Giannakouros says most customers see a return on their investment in less than five years.

“It generally produces energy when the customer needs it during the peak days when the sun is shining real hot. For example when your air conditioner is running,” said Giannakouros.

Still Ishenhart says more research needs to be done to figure out how to make solar more affordable and how to make things more for traditional energy companies.

“Frankly less burdensome to the utility because this does change the way they have to do business. So how do we make it so it’s something they can benefit from?” said Isenhart.

Earlier this week Governor Branstad forfeited a $ 1 million grant that would have help pay for some solar research. That research would have been aimed at ways to make solar more affordable for all involved.

l Comments: (563) 583-9999; katie.wiedemann@kcrg.com

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