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Farm Advisory

Renewable Energy Consumer Advisory

As a state with a significant renewable energy potential, Iowa is attracting the attention of numerous renewable energy developers.  Residential energy consumers may be eligible for federal grants or stimulus tax credits up to 30 percent of the cost of certain renewable energy equipment (be sure to check on the expiration dates of the tax credits and  grants).

For more information regarding incentives you should go to the www.dsireusa.org.  Consumers should be aware of potentially misleading claims and information regarding the suitability and expected payback period of alternative energy equipment. 

Before investing in renewable energy resources, consumers should do their homework, including at least, but not necessarily limited to, taking the following steps:

  • Obtain a detailed written proposal that describes the cost (including the cost for any installation work included in the proposal) and the technical specifications of the renewable energy equipment, including the equipment size in kilowatts (kW), the expected annual kWh generation from the specific unit, the cost and details of associated support equipment (such as a wind tower), and requirements for annual maintenance, warranty, and grid interconnection.

  • If the renewable energy resource is intended to generate more electricity than the consumer will use in their home, consult your electric utility about the safety requirements, availability of net billing arrangements, and expected costs for interconnecting renewable energy resources with the utility system.
  • Ask the dealer for their training related to the installation and maintenance of the turbine and whether their turbine has been submitted to the Small Wind Certification Council for independent testing and performance testing (www.smallwindcertification.org).

  • Consult zoning authorities about any local laws that may restrict renewable energy installations.

  • Seek a second opinion as to the cost and economics of the recommended renewable energy product:

  • I-RENEW maintains a list of renewable energy distributors in Iowa

http://www.irenew.org/Sourcebook.html.

  • The Iowa Energy Center website provides advice and tools for evaluating wind energy, including a “Wind Assessment Calculator” that can be used to estimate the output of many types of wind generators and locations.  http://www.energy.iastate.edu/   

  • For more information on eligibility for tax incentives on alternative energy equipment, consumers should consult competent tax advisors and IRS guidelines http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-09-41.pdf

Consumers should exercise extreme caution if a renewable energy facility dealer recommends not pursuing these options.  You should always ask for references regarding completed projects by the company selling the system.

Contact:

Iowa Attorney General Farm Division
321 East 12th St., Room 018
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Phone: 515/281-5351
Fax: 515/242-6072
Email: farm@ag.state.ia.us