Renewable Energy

Solar Energy Conversion Systems

The City of Council Bluffs is seeking ways to encourage solar energy development in our community. This webpage represents a collection of solar information and resources for the community. For more information about the basics of solar energy, your solar options, and questions to ask solar professionals, read the Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power and visit the Department of Energy’s Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar.

On April 20, 2020, City Council passed Resolution No. 20-97, which directed the Mayor to execute a letter to the International City/County Management Association and The Solar Foundation announcing the City’s commitment to become a SolSmart-designated community. The letter affirms the city's commitment to "improve solar market conditions, making it faster, easier, and more affordable for our residents and businesses to install solar energy systems."

The statement also set the following goals for the City of Council Bluffs:

  • Create a 10-year sustainability master plan to include City goals and objectives to decrease energy, water and fossil fuel use along with Greenhouse gas emission by 2030 while also increasing reuse and recycling of materials.
  • Enact policies to remove barriers and support the installation of sustainable, clean energy.
  • Engage the community and surrounding areas to encourage clean energy practices. 

As of August 2021, the City of Council Bluffs has been awarded a SolSmart Gold designation for our efforts to make it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar! We are proud to be recognized as a national leader in advancing solar energy. SolSmart Press Release 2021

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, SolSmart recognizes cities and counties for cutting red tape and making solar more affordable and accessible for homes and businesses. We are committed to reducing solar energy costs at the local level and encouraging even more homes and businesses to use this clean, affordable energy source. The SolSmart Gold designation recognizes that we are “open for solar business,” helping to attract solar industry investment that generates economic development and jobs.

In addition to achieving SolSmart Gold, the City of Council Bluffs was presented with a Special Recognition Award by SolSmart. The SolSmart Special Recognition Award celebrates and shines a light on communities that have gone above and beyond – earning at least 60% of the total points available in one or more of the eight SolSmart categories.SolSmart Gold and Special RecognitionImportant information about the City of Council Bluffs' solar permitting process and solar energy in general can be found on this page. More information can also be obtained by contacting the Permits and Inspections Division at (712) 890-5276 or the Planning & Zoning Division at (712) 890-5350.

Policies and Processes

Information about permitting, inspection, and zoning process for solar energy in Council Bluffs. 

Our Solar Commitment

The Community Development Department is committed to exceptional customer service as it relates to solar processes. To promote the continued advancement of solar in our community we are committed to the following:

  • Providing clear guidelines about the solar permitting and inspection process in our Solar PV Submittal Requirements Checklist.
  • Providing an overview of what zoning allows for solar PV under what conditions - Zoning Fact Sheet 
  • Processing small rooftop solar PV permits applications in less than 3 business days.
  • Offering inspection appointment times for solar projects (instead of appointment windows).

Solar Benefits

Solar energy uses a renewable energy source – the sun – and provides many benefits for individuals and the community. It improves environmental quality by reducing carbon emissions and air pollution, supports local solar companies in Iowa, saves money on energy costs as the price continues to drop from technological developments, and improves electric grid resilience during peak demand and other stresses to the system.

Solar Maps and Potential

Investigate your property’s solar potential by clicking here. You can also estimate the performance of potential photovoltaic projects using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s PVWatts Calculator, or see a map here where solar is already installed in Council Bluffs.

Finding a Contractor and Going Solar

Find a solar contractor (or two) to assess your home for solar energy and provide a quote.

  • Certified practitioners can be found through NABCEP.
  • Visit EnergySage to learn about solar energy and submit for solar quotes from a network of pre-screened, local solar installers 
  • Consumer Solar Checklist – a checklist for residential consumers considering solar energy from IREC, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.
  • Clean Energy Consumer Bill of Rights – ensure a positive consumer experience by addressing important issues from IREC, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.
  • Solar Customer Resource Portal – various resources from SEIA, the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Financing, Incentives, and Tax Exemptions

Typically solar installations are paid for through loans or cash, with Federal and State incentives available.

Solar Job Training and Career Opportunities

  • Iowa Western Community College offers Renewable Energy Technology and Solar Installation Technician programs designed to provide the skills and knowledge required for entry-level careers in the installation and maintenance of renewable energy systems, with a focus on wind turbines and solar energy systems. 
  • Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) offers industry-leading professional training for solar PV, solar thermal, and small wind systems.  Both online and in-person courses are available year-round.  
  • Solar Training Academy is a series of weekend classes providing students with industry-leading solar technical training. Topics include photovoltaic (PV) fundamentals, PV site assessment practices, and design principles and considerations. 
  • The Energy Fair, organized by MREA, is the longest-running event of its kind and brings over 10,000 attendees together to learn about clean energy and sustainability.

Solar Installations as of May '22 (Click image to load live map)

Solar installations in Council Bluffs - May 2022

Estimated Rooftop Solar Potential of Council Bluffs

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