Published on December 4th, 2017 | by Joshua S Hill0
Iowa Might Lack Green Policy But It Still Beats Out California With Cleanest Power
December 4th, 2017 by Joshua S Hill
California might be known the world over as a clean energy leader, but according to information from the US Energy Information Administration and highlighted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the award for cleanest state in the country goes to Iowa — and they’ve done it without the aggressive clean energy policies made so famous in California.
Writing for Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) last month, Joe Ryan and Chris Martin highlighted figures from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) that showed the state of Iowa led the way across the United States as the state with the cleanest energy mix.
Currently, Iowa generates 40% of its electricity from wind and solar farms, and it has done so as one of the country’s least-ambitious states in terms of clean energy targets and policies. It is followed closely by Vermont (39%), North Dakota (37%), and Kansas (32%). Comparatively, California falls in at only 29%.
Now, these are not the most conclusive figures when you consider that Iowa has a population of only 3.135 million and 56,271 square miles of land, compares to California’s population of 39.25 million and 163,696 square miles of land. When you’re smaller and have fewer people, of course it’s easier to boost your clean energy capacity to account for more of your energy mix.
However, according to Ryan and Martin from BNEF, “The disparity between a state’s green goals and its green power show that economics, geography and population can play a larger role in renewable energy development than policy.” Or, in other words, if you have the renewable energy resources Iowa has, then you don’t necessarily need excessive policies to drive renewable energy development because it’s already highly sought after and economically sound. Specifically, states like Iowa and North Dakota — situated in the middle of the country — have fantastic wind energy resources, with wide-open and flat spaces which are relatively unpopulated.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that clean energy policies aren’t helpful or necessary — it just depends on your location. Densely populated states like California and New York need the policies to drive development, though they are also home to populations pleased with driving clean energy development. New Jersey, the most densely-populated state in the country, still manages to sources 11% of its electricity from clean energy thanks to aggressive clean energy policies which promote solar development.