BY REGI GOODALE
The electric utilities serving Iowa are making great progress at incorporating renewable energy – including wind and solar – into the electric generation mix. And the state of Iowa is also hard at work to develop an Iowa Energy Plan, a comprehensive effort that outlines clear goals and strategies to keep energy costs low while facilitating economic growth in the years ahead.
Earlier this year, the public was invited to attend a series of six public forums throughout the state to ask questions and share ideas with the plan’s development team. Several representatives from Iowa’s electric cooperatives attended these forums to talk about the core principle that matters to our member-owners: providing electricity that’s safe, affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible.
After the public forums, the plan’s development team accepted applications from individuals to form four working groups that would set priorities and provide strategic guidance on Iowa’s energy future. These groups were formed around four strategic pillars that were important in developing the energy plan:
- Economic Development and Energy Careers
- Iowa’s Energy Resources
- Transportation and Infrastructure
- Energy Efficiency and Conservation
While several electric cooperative representatives applied to serve, ultimately two were selected: Lyle Korver of North West REC was selected for Iowa’s Energy Resources working group and Jim Gossett of Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative was selected for the Economic Development and Energy Careers working group. Twelve individuals served on each group; you can check the list of names at the Iowa Energy Plan website: www.iowaenergyplan.org.
The working groups met once a month from February through June, and you can view the agendas and summaries of these meetings on the website. The working group meetings were available to the public via conference call, and several electric cooperative representatives dialed in to participate and listen. As the series of meetings concluded in June, each working group developed a list of objectives and recommended strategies to accomplish their objectives.
Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) are now working with consulting firms to consider the working groups’ objectives and strategies and evaluate the economic and environmental impact of those strategies. The Iowa Energy Plan should be released by the end of this year.
We thank Lt. Gov. Reynolds, IEDA and IDOT for including Iowa’s not-for-profit electric cooperatives in the development process and for listening to our concerns about safety, affordability and grid reliability. We’re focused on improving the quality of life for the member-owners we serve, and that includes pursuing economic development opportunities that bring jobs and revenue to rural Iowa.
Maintaining and promoting a diverse energy mix from a variety of generation sources such as wind, natural gas, coal, solar and others is also a top priority for the electric cooperatives of Iowa. We strongly support an incentive-based approach to increasing sustainable energy generation, which has worked well to foster large-scale adoption of wind generation in the state. Your electric co-ops will continue to work on public policy that enhances economic development in Iowa and maintains your access to safe, affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible electricity.
Regi Goodale is the director of regulatory affairs for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.