Empowering Iowa’s Communities: The Role of Renewable Energy Siting Guidelines

by | Feb 7, 2024 | Featured, Instagram, News

What is renewable energy siting? Renewable energy siting helps form decisions on where and how to build new clean energy facilities like wind or solar farms. There is currently no state guidance for Iowa’s 99 counties on this type of siting which can cause confusion surrounding misinformation on clean energy.

Iowa IPL is invested in clean energy work in our state as bold and just climate action. Wind plays a significant role in Iowa as our prominent energy source and there’s an increase in utility-scale solar projects, helping diversify our power grid. Our communities should have the opportunity to flourish and grow in a sustainable manner, reaping the numerous benefits offered by renewable energy which is vital to reducing carbon emissions for the health of Iowans on our planet. 

The siting process can be complex and challenging for our local officials and developers to work through, and initiatives like a renewable energy siting matrix can make the process easier. A siting matrix can guide informed decisions by considering factors such as environmental impact, community engagement, and items commonly found in local ordinances.

The siting matrix should:

  • Serve as a comprehensive tool based on science and easy to use.
  • Be transparent and fair.
  • Create clear expectations and standards for those involved with development and for community members who will live near the energy generation systems.
  • Remain as guidance to better match each county or community’s context.

The renewable energy industry is still new and growing:

  • Each year an average of 20 Iowa counties will spend time and resources updating, revising, or developing new siting ordinances. 
  • Many counties do not have previous or updated zoning ordinances or  language for projects.
  • More local leaders will need to make decisions on the siting of renewable energy projects in their communities.

Easing the task of developing and updating ordinance language for local officials and community members:

  • A siting matrix that is easy to use can help uplift our communities to become clean energy leaders. 
  • Local officials struggle to find credible and unbiased sources of accurate information.
  • A voluntary matrix can provide guidance for addressing key issues involved with renewable energy planning and development.
  • Local officials face the challenge of balancing community concerns, obtaining accurate information, and working with developers.

A renewable energy siting matrix offers communities to benefit and flourish from renewable energy while easing the challenges of siting and zoning in a growing and changing industry. Having this tool can help empower communities to navigate siting challenges and provide Iowans the opportunity to thrive and prosper sustainably for future generations.

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