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Iowa Plans Energy Independence By 2025

Wind turbines in Wisconsin generate
power bought by Alliant Energy
to serve Iowa customers.
(Photo by Todd Spinks courtesy
NREL)

DES MOINES, Iowa, December 14, 2007 (ENS) – Iowa’s initial Energy Independence Plan, submitted to Governor Chet Culver and members of the general assembly today, calls for the state to set standards that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

The plan calls for greenhouse gas emissions standards for new cars sold in Iowa that follow the low-carbon standard pioneered by California.

Written by the newly formed Iowa Office of Energy Independence, the Board of the new $100 million Power Fund, and state agencies, the plan encourages Iowa production of cost-effective, renewable energy, acceleration of infrastructure development, and use of renewable fuels for all transportation in Iowa.

The Iowa Office of Energy Independence was created by the legislature in May to recommend ways Iowa could become energy independent by 2025. There is a long way to go to reach that goal. Today, 95 percent of the state’s power comes from outside sources, a figure that has hardly changed in 25 years, according to the report.

“There is a new convergence of factors that presses Iowa forward,” the report states. “It is no longer possible to maintain an energy status quo.”

“Windows of opportunity have opened as a result of the convergence of time, Iowa’s resources and key external conditions,” the report says.” Those include the volatile cost of fossil fuels, the growing acceptance of alternative energy sources, local eagerness to invest in energy infrastructure, and increasing awareness of climate change.”

“The political will has changed as well, on a global, national, state, and local level. Iowa’s political leadership is critical for successful market transformation to achieve greater sustainable energy usage,” says the report.

Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat, supports expansion of renewable energy in Iowa and across the country.

Thursday, Culver called on all candidates running for president to support extension of the wind production tax credit, which was left out of the Energy Bill passed last night in the U.S. Senate.

“While I support many of the provisions in the Energy Bill, I am disappointed this important tax credit was stripped from the legislation,” said Culver. “However, this does not end this fight and today I call on members of Congress, both Democratic and Republican, and others running for president to join me in supporting the emerging wind industry by supporting the wind production tax credit.”

Wind power production is particularly important to the Culver government, which has attracted new turbine manufacturers, and wind energy producers to the state since taking office in January 2007.

“It is our goal to make Iowa the national leader in energy efficiency, and sustainable energy,” wrote Governor Culver and Lt. Gov. Patty Judge in a letter included in the Energy Independence Plan. “We want to make Iowa what we have called the Silicon Valley of the Midwest with respect to our new energy economy.”

Culver counts plans for the nation’s first cellulosic biorefinery, more ethanol E85 pumps and more distribution lines for bio-diesel among his renewable energy accomplishments since he took office in January.

The plan’s recommendations to the Iowa Legislature, which will be updated annually, include:

* Join 16 states that have adopted or are considering adopting the California emission standards for passenger vehicles

* Set standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050

* Encourage Iowa production of cost-effective, renewably-generated electricity

* Accelerate the infrastructure development and use of renewable fuels for all transportation in Iowa

* Direct power companies to increase energy efficiency efforts, with increased education

* Order the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to consider a facility’s greenhouse gas emissions when considering whether to approve air permits

* Mandatory energy audits and energy-efficiency projects at all state-owned buildings, and new energy standards for new buildings

* Encouragement of telecommuting, ride shares and use of public transit by state employees

* Plan improvements to power lines, pipelines, railroads, trails, and roads needed to promote energy independence

* Set numeric goals for cost-effective energy-efficiency measures

* Require utilities to provide more renewable energy, and provide incentives

* Develop and enforce energy codes for new and old buildings, and provide incentives for projects that exceed the minimum requirements

* Adopt a new labeling system for residential, commercial and industrial complexes that promotes energy efficiency achievements

“Energy independence is essential for Iowa’s environment and our economy,” Governor Culver wrote in his letter attached to the plan. “With the creation of the Office of Energy Independence and the Iowa Power Fund, we have committed our state government to dedicated leadership in this effort, and to making Iowa the renewable energycapital of the country.”

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