Solar power companies concerned by EPA stance

Local business relies heavily on federal tax credits

DES MOINES - Are Iowa's alternative energy sources in jeopardy?

Federal leaders said this week they want to get rid of tax credits on wind and solar products. One local solar company says they will be directly impacted in a negative way.

CB Solar, located in Des Moines, sells and installs solar panels. They say without federal tax credits for the solar power industry, they wouldn't be where they are today.

Matt Edwards, the controller at CB Solar, is a firm believer in solar power. He says it great for the environment - and you really get your bang for your buck. He says over the past few years, business has been booming.

"We've had over 400 installations to date," Edwards said.

And a lot of that has to do with solar tax credits. Edwards says the credits bring down the costs to get solar panels from a manufacturer -- that includes 30 percent from the federal government and an additional 15 percent from Iowa.

"And so a $20,000 dollar system becomes an $11,000 system, just like that," Edwards said.

Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, recently took a stance against these tax incentives, saying they are a blow to the coal industry.

"The EPA is no longer in the business of picking winners and losers," Pruitt said, earlier this week.

Because of the EPA's position, companies like CB Solar say there's some fear the tax incentives they rely on will disappear.

"Iowa is very renewable energy progressive and has a 50 percent match to the federal tax credit, so if the federal tax credit goes away, the Iowa tax credit goes away," Edwards said.

That means fewer panels coming to CB Solar -- and fewer products from their customers to buy.

"If we don't have them, we can't supply them," Edwards said."

Though the tax credits are not definitely off the table, Edwards has one message he wants to make clear: "We want people to know that solar is a viable option even here in Iowa."

CB Solar says they hope the EPA's stance against solar and wind tax credits does not move forward, so they can keep their business thriving.

As it stands right now, the federal tax credit for solar power will expire completely by 2022. Senator Chuck Grassley said he is working to get a face-to-face meeting with Pruitt, the head of the EPA, to talk about reversing his stance on solar and wind.

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