Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Iowa Law’s new Hubbell Environmental Law Initiative (HELI) will publicly launch with their first large event focusing on solar energy in Iowa. On October 11, HELI is hosting Solar Energy in Iowa: Policies and Practices at the Municipal, County, and State Levels in a hybrid format with both in-person and streaming options available.

The event comes as the federal government has set aside more than $370 billion to fund renewable energy over the next decade and as fossil fuel costs have become a growing global concern. Expert panels of policy experts, researchers, industry members, public employees, and nonprofit organization representatives will discuss solar policies and practices across the state of Iowa.

Each panel will focus on solar topics at different levels—from municipal level issues such as net metering to county level issues like utility scale, land use, citing, and state level issues like storage, equity, transmission. Following the presentations, a moderated Q&A session will take place, allowing the audience to engage with the panel experts.

“The Hubbell Environmental Law Initiative is excited to publicly launch with this solar event in October,” expressed Blake Rupe, program director for HELI. “We are bringing experts from policy, industry, research, and nonprofits to Iowa Law to engage in an open dialogue about various aspects of solar policy. We hope this fruitful discussion among experts will help students and the public gain an understanding of how policy can affect the reality in communities across the state. The HELI team hopes to carry the momentum from this event into future programming, research, and engagement opportunities.”

Perhaps surprising to some, Iowa has been a national leader in renewable energy for decades. Last year, nearly 60% of Iowa’s electricity came from renewable sources, almost all of it from wind. Solar is growing fast with a nearly equal mix of small rooftop panels and larger-scale arrays in the state.

Counties across Iowa have recently rezoned or are considering rezoning hundreds of acres for proposed solar farms and the state’s two largest solar facilities came online last year (the Wapello Solar Project on 800 acres in Luisa County) and this year (the Holliday Creek solar array near Fort Dodge), each generating enough electricity to power around 20,000 homes.

HELI, created by the vision and generosity of Iowa Law alumni Fred Hubbell (76JD) and Charlotte Beyer Hubbell (76JD), provides an active forum for interdisciplinary engagement on important environmental issues and support for law students, faculty and curriculum—ultimately strengthening the environmental law bar in Iowa. It will also help to draw together interdisciplinary groups and researchers across the university and the state in dialogue and discussion.