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BREAKING NEWS

Culver delivers at IWEA meeting

By Staff | Mar 28, 2008

“We hope to build the Silicon Valley of the Midwest right here in Iowa ... and it starts right here with wind.” —Governor Chet Culver EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

You could say it was a meeting that Governor Culver really had to attend.

Maybe it was because of the fact that he had campaigned on establishing a state Office of Energy Independence. Possibly it was because he pledged to establish the $100-million Iowa Power Fund.

Or maybe it was because it was he was keynote speaker at the first-ever annual meeting of the Iowa Wind Energy Association.

Whatever the reason, Culver, who placed renewable energy front and center in his campaign, found an appreciative audience Thursday at IWEA’s first annual meeting at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville. The college acted as host site since President Dr. Harold Prior has served as IWEA interim president. The meeting also hosted representatives from the wind industry, public utilities, and community colleges and universities from throughout Iowa.

“We’ve got a lot of good news,” said Culver, citing a 250 percent increase in wind-generated megawatts in 2007.

Representatives from the wind energy industry, public utilities, and community colleges and universities from throughout Iowa were represented Thursday at the first-ever convention of the Iowa Wind Energy Association at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville. EDN photos by Michael Tidemann

The governor was quick to make that statistic but one step in his plan to make Iowa a net energy exporter.

“Iowans have always had a history of innovation in this state,” Culver said, noting the contributions of such visionaries as Norman Borlaug and others. “Iowa will lead the 21st century renewable energy expedition. In Iowa, our 21st century expedition has already begun.”

Culver noted that Iowa already leads the nation in biofuels production, with 30 percent of all ethanol and 20 percent of biodiesel production coming from Iowa.

Culver pointed the fact that only Iowa and Texas have companies that manufacture wind towers, blades, and turbines, all the components necessary for wind production.

Iowa energy companies are now producing 1,000 megawatts yearly of energy from wind, 10 times the currently legislated target of 105 megawatts yearly.

The $100-million Iowa Power Fund will help leverage other money to fund renewable energy development, said Culver. He said the state Office of Energy Independence had already received $190 million in requests for projects ranging from biomass projects using prairie grass to wind storage and other projects.

“We hope to build the Silicon Valley of the Midwest right here in Iowa … and it starts right here with wind,” Culver said.

The governor outlined three goals for renewable energy:

n Get Congress to extend the current wind energy tax credit.

n Get the Iowa Legislature to pass a renewable energy initiative this session setting a state goal of having renewables comprise 25 percent of all energy used in the state by 2025.

n Calling on Iowans to be vigilant about doing home energy audits, changing daily habits in energy consumption, recycling, and taking other energy conservation efforts.

“Iowa is poised to lead in this exciting effort,” said Culver. “Perhaps we can become a net exporter of energy.”