Reynolds visits Fairfield Wednesday

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg visited Ideal Energy Solar Wednesday to tour operations and learn about the job creation and positive economic impact solar energy provides to the state of Iowa.

There are more than 700 people employed in the solar industry in Iowa, up 14 percent from 2015. Solar energy is installed in at least 97 of Iowa?s 99 counties, providing economic impact all across the state.

During the visit, the governor and lieutenant governor spoke with Ideal Energy founder Troy Van Beek about Iowa?s leadership role in the nation?s growing clean energy economy.

Iowa is at the forefront of utility-scale wind projects and in recent years has seen explosive growth in solar installations among utilities, businesses and homeowners.

?It?s wonderful to visit companies like Ideal Energy Solar to see the direct employee investment firsthand and to see how they help other businesses innovate with energy,? Reynolds said. ?I just visited a manufacturer in Pilot Grove last week that powers its facility 100 percent by a solar field installed by Ideal Energy.

Renewable energy benefits all Iowans through low electricity rates and job creation and helps companies generate savings to invest back in their operations.?

Reynolds and Gregg also toured a local solar installation at Schaus-Vorhies Manufacturing in Fairfield. The half megawatt solar field sits on a previously contaminated Environmental Protection Agency cleanup site and produces revenue for SVM through avoided energy costs.

Completed in the winter of 2016, the solar field is one of the largest privately owned solar arrays in Iowa and has helped transform the business.

In addition, leaders from businesses that have invested in solar installations were in attendance to showcase how the savings from their solar energy investment allows them to reinvest in their employees and the customers they serve.

Jennifer Steffensmeier, president of Steffensmeier Welding and Manufacturing, and Mary Sundblad, owner of Stuff, Etc. discussed how their companies have invested in solar projects at their respective businesses and now see substantial savings that enable them to put the savings to work by hiring more employees and investing in training, equipment and expansion.

?Renewable energy has proven it creates jobs and supports our Iowa communities,? said Troy Van Beek. ?Small business is the backbone of the economy. Solar energy supports 30 jobs at our company alone, and also has a trickle-down economic impact throughout the supply chain and other industries in Iowa.?

The solar representatives shared with Governor Reynolds how good public policy plays an important role in the development of renewable energy. Examples of policy discussed include the importance of the state renewable energy tax credit programs, the federal Suniva trade case and energy innovation for battery storage and new technologies.

Reynolds is in her first year as governor.