An Iowa energy plan made public today envisions an economy driven by energy research and production, along with the adoption of new technologies in transportation and building operation.

To capitalize on the rapid changes in the energy arena, the report stresses the need to provide an appropriately-trained workforce as well as financing – especially for people who have not been able to access new energy options, energy-efficiency improvements in particular.

The report is a joint project of the state’s economic development authority and its transportation department. Spearheading the project was Lt. Gov Kim Reynolds, who will take over as Iowa’s governor in January if Congress confirms Gov. Terry Branstad as the incoming ambassador to China.

Development of the plan began early in 2016, with six sessions throughout the state to gather the thoughts of Iowans. A committee of 48 people representing a variety of viewpoints and industries was gathered, then divided into four working groups to address four issues:

  • Economic Development and Energy Careers
  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation
  • Iowa’s Energy Resources
  • Transportation and Infrastructure

The report makes a point of the economic-development potential inherent in the discovery and development of new energy technologies. Already, Iowa has developed a robust wind industry, putting it near the top of the 50 states in terms of wind-energy production. The report stresses the vast potential in some other budding technologies – bioenergy and biofuels, for example. According to the report, Iowa ranks near the top of the states in its production of plant waste and manure. By 2030, the state is likely to generate about 31 million tons of it.

With regard to energy efficiency, and the savings it can generate for customers, the report emphasizes the need to seek out underserved populations: rural, low-income and elderly residents.

The report puts a priority on state policies aimed at encouraging more efficiency and more energy supplied by solar, wind and other renewables. It also makes the case for more transmission capacity to move power – particularly renewable energy – from its place of generation to where it is needed.

Another infrastructure need highlighted is pipelines to carry natural gas to areas that rely on propane. The lack of access to natural gas has impaired efforts to attract and develop new businesses in propane-dependent parts of the state, according to the authors.

Finally, the report urges its readers not to consider the completion of the report to be the end of the story.

“The most crucial step in this planning process is what happens next – implementation … The work of individuals, municipalities, universities, business organizations, nonprofits and energy trade organizations and associations will be essential to the success in implementing this plan … the Iowa Energy Plan provides a clear pathway for us to lead together into the future.”

Karen spent most of her career reporting for the Kansas City Star, focusing at various times on local and regional news, and features. More recently, she was employed as a researcher and writer for a bioethics center at a children’s hospital in Kansas City. Karen covers Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.