‘We’re not stopping’: Iowa Governor touts renewable energy in Washington

Source: By Mike Brownlee, Council Bluffs Nonpareil • Posted: Thursday, July 6, 2017

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds touted wind and other renewable resources in the state during a recent trip to Washington.

Last year Iowa generated 36.6 percent of its electricity from wind, the most ever for any state. That figure is expected to keep growing, with the state’s two largest utilities having already started $4 billion in additional wind expansion projects.

“Iowa became a national leader in wind-energy generation through early investments. Iowans reap the benefits with some of the lowest electric rates in the nation,” Reynolds said in a statement after a meeting in Washington with President Donald Trump.

During a rally in Cedar Rapids last week Trump dumped on wind energy, saying, “I don’t want to just hope the wind blows to light up your homes and your factories.” He paused before adding, “as the birds fall to the ground,” a reference to birds killed by turbines.

Environmentalists and politicians said the president’s suggestion that wind is unreliable was outdated and off-base, and noted that bird deaths have been minimized and aren’t a source of controversy in Iowa.

During his last press call before the July 4 recess, Sen. Chuck Grassley said he told a member of the White House that he was the author of the wind energy tax credit.

“The number of birds killed by wind turbines is miniscule compared to birds killed by cars. There are probably more birds fly into trump tower than are killed by windmills in Iowa,” Grassley said. “So I hope they tell him that.”

Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy, a leader in wind, said that using a balanced mix of traditional and renewable energy sources allows the company to deliver power to customers regardless of whether the wind blows.

MidAmerican says its adoption of wind has helped make its rates among the lowest in the nation. That has also made Iowa an attractive state for companies that use lots of power but want it to be clean. Microsoft, Facebook and Google have each built large data centers in Iowa in recent years.

A recent state report says 6,000 Iowa workers are employed in the wind energy industry, including those who manufacture and install wind turbines. Farmers also benefit from receiving payments for leasing their land to host them.

Reynolds recently helped develop a state energy plan that calls for building upon the “tremendous growth of Iowa’s wind energy industry.” The plan recommends developing more energy storage infrastructure to house excess wind energy generated by turbines, which operate best during daylight.

Reynolds said the state would continue to work toward diversified energy production.

While in Washington Reynolds and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts touted the importance of ethanol to Trump, while also meeting with EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. Reynolds discussed the renewable fuel standard with Pruitt. Ricketts and Reynolds made the case for allowing certain ethanol blends to be sold in the summer.

“We’re not stopping there,” Gov. Reynolds said. “We want to take our renewable generation to the next level by converting Iowa’s abundant biomass resources into energy.”

Reynolds listed animal waste, farming byproducts and industrial waste among the biomass resources that could be reborn as fuel.

“Iowa is a leader in energy innovation,” Reynolds said. “We have a solid track record of smart investments in a diversified energy portfolio.”