Iowa Solar Rebates and Incentives

Solar Energy Equipment Exemption

Program Type Sales Tax Exemption
Technologies Photovoltaics, Solar Thermal Electric, Solar Water Heating (including pool heating), Solar Space Heat,       and Wind
Amount 100 Percent of sales tax exempt
Required Documentation Receipt for services and equipment purchased
Official Web Site

Iowa’s tax laws exempt purchasers of wind and solar systems from sales tax. This includes tax exemptions for the total cost of wind energy equipment and all materials used to manufacture, install, or construct wind energy systems.

The statutes originally only applied to wind equipment, but were expanded to solar equipment in 2006.

Kalona Renewable Energy Purchase Rate

Program Type Performance-based Incentive and Rebate
Technologies Photovoltaics and Wind
Amount $0.20 per kWh. Rebate of $1,000 per kilowatt installed up to $5,000 per member site
Required Documentation Green Power Project participation, Member of the cooperative, signed 10-year contract
Official Web Site

The Farmers Electric Cooperative offers customers with wind or solar installations a production incentive of $0.20 per kWh for energy produced by their system, up to 25 percent of the member’s total monthly energy usage. Under the program, customers provide all energy supplied by their renewable energy installation to the grid, and they must install two meters at their own expense: one to measure energy used and the other to measure how much energy their system puts on the grid.

The cooperative pays for up to 25 percent of the customer’s total usage for a month. After that, the customer is billed at their regular rate for energy used. However, any additional electricity produced by the system is credited to the customer’s monthly bill at his or her retail rate under the state’s net-metering rules.

To be eligible, cooperative members must be part of the Green Power Project, be within the cooperative’s service area, and sign a 10-year contract with the utility to purchase all power the system puts on the grid.

The cooperative also offers customers a rebate to help with up-front costs of installing a system. Under that program, cooperative members can receive a rebate of $1,000 per kW installed, up to a $5,000 rebate. The rebates are offered in addition to any federal or state rebates offered.

To be eligible, the site must first be assessed by the cooperative to determine whether it will produce enough energy to qualify for the rebate. And they are subject to cooperative approval of site and metering capability. The equipment must be new and installed by a professional installer on the customer's premises. As of 2010, total rebates under the program were limited to $20,000 per customer, annually.

Iowa Net Metering Program

Program Type Net Metering
Technologies Photovoltaics and Wind
Amount Up to 500 kW. Small systems credited at retail rate for excess energy produced, carries forward on a monthly basis.
Required Documentation Standard application form and interconnection agreement provided by utility
Official Web Site N/A

Much like Iowa’s alternative energy law, the state’s net-metering rules took effect well before other states, in 1984. Net metering is available to all customers of the state’s investor-owned utilities. Customers are credited at the retail rate for electricity up to 500 kW. Net excess generation is carried over indefinitely, but customers that only generate a small amount of energy are not repaid for excess generation.

Customers must pay a $50 interconnection fee as part of the agreement. Larger generators (customers that have large systems) pay additional interconnection fees.

Alternate Energy Revolving Loan Program

Program Type No-interest Loan
Technologies Photovoltaics, Solar Hot Water Heating, Solar Thermal, Solar Space Heat                                       
Amount 50 Percent of installation costs covered
Required Documentation Technical Application Form
Official Web Site

Iowa’s Alternate Energy Revolving Loan Program (AERLP) is funded at $15.9 million, $5.9 million from fees previously assessed against the state’s investor-owned utilities and $10 million from the state. The center said AERLP is available to fund numerous types of projects, including solar, biomass, small hydro and wind turbines. The program is administered by the Iowa Energy Center.

According to the center, the no-interest loans are granted “based on both the technical merit of a project and the financial qualifications of the applicant.” The center will fund 50 percent of projects, from residential clean energy projects, up to $1 million projects. However, matching funds must come from a lender of the applicant’s choice. As loans are repaid, the funds become available for loans to future projects. The maximum repayment period is 20 years.

Applicants must submit a technical application form, explaining their renewable energy project. Applications for projects with a total cost of $50,000 or less are reviewed continually. Projects that cost more are reviewed on a quarterly basis. Deadlines for larger projects seeking funds are on October 31, January 31, April 30 and July 31. Applications must be postmarked by the closing date of a cycle to be considered during that round. As of September 2010, the program said it has funded 133 renewable energy projects. “These facilities have an annual energy production equivalent to 1,850,783 MWh,” the center said.

Iowa Rebates and Incentives Summary

Iowa“I scream, you scream. We all scream for pork loin!” Sure, there were other pork industry signs at Iowa’s the Des Moines International Airport, including of course “Pork: The other white meat.” But the first one stuck with us over here at CEA. And it should be an indicator of just what type of state Iowa is, a state with deep roots in the farming and agricultural industries. However, the state also has ample renewable resources. It’s also at heart of the grain and bible belts, but could also be considered part of the wind and solar belts. As such, the state offers residents and businesses, including farms, numerous incentives to adopt or increase the use of renewables like solar, wind, biomass or biogas power. These incentives include tax breaks, low- and no-interest rate loans, rebate programs, performance-based incentives and more.

To help further the state’s efforts in adopting renewables, the state established the Iowa Office of Energy Independence. The office is charged with producing the state’s annual Energy Independence plan and manages the Iowa Power Fund, which helps fund clean energy development in the state. As of 2007, the office also was charged with spending $24 million annually to support development of renewable energy in the state.

The state is a national leader in renewable energy consumption, particularly wind energy consumption. A full 14 percent of all the energy used in the state is produced by wind turbines, as of 2010.

While the state’s wind resources provide the gale force behind Iowa’s move to clean energy, its solar resources are nothing to blow off. Despite being among the more northerly of the midwest states, it gets an average of about 4.5 kilowatt hours (kWh) per square meter of daily sunlight. The southwestern half of the state gets close to 5 kWh per square meter per day, and the northeastern half gets closer to 4 kWh per square meter per day. Even in the northeastern region, PV makes sense.

Iowa doesn’t have a renewable portfolio standard per se—it passed its alternative energy law in 1983, long before the idea of renewable energy standards were implemented by other states. The original statute required its two investor-owned utilities to purchase renewable energy. The statute has been updated since then and, as of 2010, the utilities must purchase a total of 105 megawatts of renewable electricity annually. However, in this largely agrarian state, the 105 MW is equal to roughly half the demand of the two utilities.

Currently, Iowa offers an alternative energy loan program, net-metering programs through its various utilities, a performance-based incentive for customers feeding electricity back into the grid, and a sales tax exemption for residents who purchase solar equipment.

Iowa Solar Power Financial Incentives

Financial Incentives

Corporate Tax Credit

Excise Tax Incentive

Personal Tax Credit

Property Tax Assessment

Property Tax Exemption

Sales Tax Exemption

State Grant Program

State Loan Program

Utility Loan Program

Utility Rebate Program

Rules, Regulations & Policies

Building Energy Code

Energy Standards for Public Buildings

Generation Disclosure


Mandatory Utility Green Power Option

Net Metering

Renewables Set Aside

Solar Access Law/Guideline

Related Programs & Initiatives

Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center

The U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) provides a wide range of information and resources to enable the use of alternative fuels and other petroleum-reduction options, such as advanced vehicles, fuel blends, idle reduction and fuel economy. The AFDC site offers a database of state and federal laws and incentives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, air quality, fuel efficiency, and other transportation-related topics.

Green Power Network

The U.S. Department of Energy's Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and activities, including opportunities to buy green power. This site provides state-by-state information on green power marketing and utility green power programs. In addition, the site lists marketers of renewable energy credits (RECs), also known as green tags or renewable energy certificates, which represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects.

Weatherization Assistance Program

The U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient. Through this program, weatherization service providers install energy-efficiency measures in the homes of qualifying homeowners free of charge. The WAP program web site offers a state-by-state map of opportunities, projects and activities.

Wind Powering America

The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America site provides state-by-state information on wind projects and activities, including wind working groups, validated wind maps, anemometer loan programs, small wind guides, state-specific news, wind for schools, workshops and web casts.

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