Solar Tour

Local legislatures visited Knoxville Middle School during a clean energy tour Nov. 14. From left to right: Jordan Oster (Iowa Environmental Council); Cody Smith (Center for Rural Affairs); Terry Dvorak (Red Lion Renewables); Lana Shope (Iowa Community Action Association); Representative Jon Thorup; and Matt Russell (Iowa Interfaith Power and Light).

Local legislators visited Knoxville on Nov. 14 for a clean energy tour highlighting local clean energy projects.

The tour included a stop at Knoxville Middle School to view the new solar panels that were recently installed. It also included visits to a farm utilizing clean energy and a weatherized house.

“We set up these tours with state legislators to help them understand the technical aspects and the public benefits of these types of projects,” said Matt Russell with Iowa Interfaith Power and Light.

State Representative Jon Thorup was one of the legislators on the tour. Thorup, who is from Knoxville, says he found the tour to be very informative.

“I’m very proud that Knoxville has been really a leader in [solar energy],” Thorup said. “Legislatively there are a lot of things that will be affected relating to solar energy… It’s just like anything, it’s good to have as good a knowledge as possible to come out and learn about before I go out and cast my vote.”

Russell says that Knoxville is one of the leading solar power communities in the state. There are solar panels located at both the school and city hall that help provide energy and electricity.

Over the last few years, Russell says he has seen efforts to change energy laws in the state. He says there are numerous benefits to clean energy and that it benefits both the environment and economy and can be used across multiple sectors.

“Energy is a really important thing for our state,” Russell said. “We want to make sure any laws or policies going forward benefit the whole state.”

Thorup was joined on the tour by representatives from Red Lion Renewables, Iowa Interfaith Power and Light, IMPACT Community Action Partnership, the Iowa Environmental Council, the Center for Rural Affairs and the Iowa Environmental Law and Policy Center.

Emma Skahill can be reached at or by calling the newsroom at 641-842-2155.

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