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Asbury solar

This is a photo provided by Eagle Point Solar of Dubuque of solar panels on the city hall in Asbury.

Reprinted from the Dubuque Telegraph Herald March 25.

It’s difficult to build the renewable-energy sector when industry giants throw up roadblocks — which is exactly what has happened in the Iowa Legislature.

A bill passed last week would allow utilities to impose new costs on solar-generating customers. For the businesses and individuals who thought they were doing something positive for the environment by installing solar panels, the state of Iowa would thank them by raising their taxes $300 a year.

The “Sunshine Tax” (SF 583) would change how utility customers are charged for electricity if they have solar now or in the future, making it far less advantageous to use solar energy.

MidAmerican Energy is pushing the measure, calling it an issue of fairness regarding solar customers’ use of the utility grid. Yet it is the utilities, not Iowans, who would benefit from the bill. Also, the 800 jobs in Iowa’s solar industry could be in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, the Iowa Utilities Board is midway through a three-year study of how net-metering of renewable energy impacts the state. Yet this bill has forged ahead without the benefit of the state board’s research and oversight.

If there’s a need to address fairness in the energy industry, Iowans should be able to see unbiased research making the case, not rely on legislation pushed by one stakeholder over another.

Jimmy Carter

The last time we wrote about former President Jimmy Carter on this editorial page, it was to honor his service and wish him well as he embarked on a fierce battle with a deadly cancer that had spread from his liver to his brain.

That was more than three years ago. Miraculously, Carter announced months later that his cancer is gone.

Now Carter hit a milestone that adds a significant note to his place in history: He’s lived longer than any other president ever has. As of Friday, Carter reached the age of 94 years and 172 days, making him one day older than George H. W. Bush was when he died in November.

That unique record was roundly applauded with warm regards for the 39th president. Nearly four decades out of office, we have come to see Carter outside of the harsh spotlight of politics. Today the name Jimmy Carter is synonymous with humanitarian.

Over the last 40 years, Carter has quietly devoted his life to public service. As a visible presence for Habitat for Humanity, Carter rolled up his sleeves and helped build houses for the poor. He created the Carter Center, an organization committed to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering. The center — and often Carter himself — observed more than 100 elections in 38 countries to encourage and ensure integrity in the process.

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Through the center, Carter led an international campaign to fight disease in Africa, nearly eradicating Guinea worm disease. In 1986, there were some 3.5 million Guinea worm infections every year across 21 countries. In 2018, there were only 28 cases in the world, according to the Carter Center. It will be the first parasitic disease to be eradicated.

Though he’s cut back a bit on his schedule, Carter still teaches Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Ga.

Congratulations to America’s oldest president ever. What an added blessing that the person to hold this honor is also a model of humility, compassion and integrity.

College scandal

The college admissions scandal continues to grow, with prosecutors seeking even more parents to indict.

The next step comes today when actresses — and moms — Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and other defendants appear in a Boston courtroom.

The actresses are among dozens of wealthy parents arrested for their role in a scheme to get their children into elite colleges by cheating on entrance exams and/or falsifying athletic records.

It’s enough to make hardworking students and parents scrimping to put kids through school sick.

Just how hard the hammer of justice will fall on the wealthy parents is difficult to predict. But don’t expect to see Huffman and Loughlin in orange jumpsuits anytime soon.

Though it might be satisfying to see the rich parents completing menial labor in community service, that’s a punishment not befitting the crime.

Here’s a suggestion for the court when it comes to meting out punishment: The payments parents made were run through a sham nonprofit that supposedly was to benefit low-income students. What could be more appropriate than demanding these parents make good on what they claimed to be doing and actually donate tens of thousands of dollars to a fund to help students who can’t afford college?

Those most hurt by this scandal are gifted students across the country who have been shut out of elite schools while others slipped through by cheating. If something positive is to come of this, it should be to the benefit of students who play by the rules.

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