CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (Iowa's News Now) — Solar energy is currently being used across 80 communities in Iowa. Iowa State Auditor, Rob Sand, wants that number to grow.
"What's really great about solar energy project is that they both help taxpayers save money and help fight the climate chaos that is all around us", says Sand.
Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand released a review of how communities are responding to utilizing solar energy. The average annual savings was more than $26,475 with an estimated lifetime savings of $716,437. If each county, each county seat, and each school district created a solar installation, Iowa taxpayers could expect to net over $375 million in savings. To read the full solar energy review, click here.
Although Iowa is a leader is sustainable energy, Sand believes that there is still work to be done. "Iowa should be proud of our leadership in green energy, but we should take it a lot further", says Sand. However, Sand says each community should take it into their own hands and decide what is right for them.
One community planning to do just that: Cedar Rapids.
"We have explored solar on our city facilities. We found some great successes. We've been able to save a good amount of money with those installations", says Eric Holthaus, Sustainability Coordinator for the city of Cedar Rapids.
The city currently has 195 homes using solar energy. Holthaus believes that this number is relatively low due to the misconceptions around solar energy. He says that prices have fallen 90% since the year 2000 and are affordable for many. Just in 2017 and 2019 alone, 3 million dollars were invested in these projects yielding around $200,000 in annual savings.
To help further this, Cedar Rapids will be teaming up with Linn and Johnson Counties in April to help sell solar panels. Along with that, virtually informational meetings will be held to help educate the public about solar energy. To find out more about Cedar Rapids' plan for solar energy, click here.
"I think everyone owes it to themselves to look at where is solar today, can this work for you. If you care about clean energy, it's worth knowing what the the current state of affairs is for solar energy", says Holhaus.
Both Sand and Holthaus believe that Iowa can be a leader in moving towards clean energy in the country.
"I really think in Iowa our goal should be to have 100% renewable based energy", says Sand.
The city of Cedar Rapids moves to work towards exactly that in their upcoming climate plan. "Our resolution calls for a lot more clean energy. It calls for really dramatic reduction in greenhouse gases. It calls for helping the most vulnerable in the community meet their basic needs", says Holthaus.