Proposed solar energy partnership goes to regents

Faculty professional development requests for the 2022-23 academic year and a 20-year lease with Alliant Energy for a proposed solar farm on university land near teaching farms south of Ames are on the agenda when the state Board of Regents meets Nov. 3-4 at the University of Northern Iowa. Open portions of the meeting will be livestreamed on the board's website, and meeting agenda items also are posted there.

Iowa State is sending professional development requests for 38 faculty to the board. This compares to 29 for the current year and 48 for last year. Because 12 of the 38 proposals are for the full 2022-23 academic year, the teaching replacement cost for the year is estimated at $0. The other 26 requests are for either fall or spring semester.

Iowa State's policy doesn't require a minimum years of service, but faculty must be employed at least halftime to be eligible for a professional development assignment. Priority is given to:

  • Accomplished senior faculty.
  • Faculty seeking competitive fellowships, such as a Fulbright award.
  • Faculty who haven't received a professional development assignment in at least five years.

Solar farm for the ag farms

As proposed, Alliant Energy would begin installing a solar farm sometime next year on land west of the ISU compost facility on 260th Street. By late 2023, the solar farm would start producing electricity and, instead of rent, the university would earn federal Clean Air Act renewable energy credits, which it would use for electricity at the teaching and research farms in the south State Avenue area. Using this green energy option helps the university meet its sustainability goals.

Alliant Energy would construct, operate, maintain and own the solar panels and related equipment.

Athletics parking plans

Iowa State will present two parking expansion plans for the facilities committee and full board approval. Both relate to athletics department plans at and near the Iowa State Center. The first replaces existing lots north of Scheman and west of Fisher Theater and expands them into an L-shaped lot that adds 380 parking stalls to this corner. The project also adds a small lot between Fisher and Stephens facilities with a dedicated drop-off area. The estimated cost is $5.5 million, to be covered by athletics department funds. If approved, construction could begin immediately, with the new lots completed next summer.

The second project converts and expands football gameday grass lot G7 into a gravel lot with a capacity for 330 RVs and a concrete parking pad and electrical service at each stall. Also in the project is a pedestrian path, including a bridge over Worle Creek, to link grass parking lots along South 16th Street to this area. The estimated cost is $8.1 million. As scheduled, the RV lot and the pedestrian bridge over University Boulevard both would be ready for the start of the 2022 football season.

Regular reports

Primarily through its committee structure, the board will receive numerous reports this month. They include:

  • Academic affairs committee (10:30 a.m. Wednesday): Academic program review annual report, biennial faculty activities report, Lakeside Laboratory annual report.
  • Campus and student affairs committee (1 p.m. Wednesday): Campus safety and security annual report, student health and wellness report.
  • Full board (9:15 a.m. Thursday): Fall enrollment report, economic development and technology transfer annual report (presented by business customers of regent universities).

The board will receive public comments before it adjourns for the day on Wednesday, or at around 5 p.m. (Adjournment is estimated at 5:45 p.m.) The deadline to register to address the board is 10:30 a.m. Nov. 1.