You're so great. Despite a long history of dependence on coal, your people are supporting clean energy and your utilities are increasingly making the transition to less carbon-intensive generation!\
How do I love thee? In the spirit of Valentine's Day, let me count the ways:
- 3 is the number of stakeholder meetings held on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce the carbon pollution from our country's biggest source, power plants. The EPA will set goals for states to reduce their carbon pollution based on each state's particular resources and experience. (Because of Iowa's incredible progress in wind, the target is eminently achievable). In these meetings, power producers, environmentalists, clean energy businesses, and state employees and officials came together to discuss what these standards will mean for Iowa. This was the beginning of a constructive dialogue that can help to ensure that Iowa moves forward in a way that maximizes the clean energy benefits to Iowans in the most cost-effective way.
- 18 is the number of years you sheltered me. My childhood home was always plagued with admittedly beautiful but potentially dangerous icicles during the winter. Thankfully, because utilities in Iowa offer free home energy audits, my parents can discover whether those icicles are the result of poor attic insulation that lets heat escape and melts snow on the roof. Energy efficiency improvements like better insulation, smarter appliances, and thicker windows enable Iowans to save money while helping to prevent much of the dangerous pollution from electricity generation.
- 27.4 is the percent of electricity generation that came from wind last year, more than any other state in the nation. And it's growing; the utility MidAmerican Energy, which serves over 739,000 electric customers in the state, has undertaken a further expansion of their wind projects. These wind projects will bring the states total generation from wind to above 6,200 MW. So Iowa, thank you for giving me the humbling and awe-inspiring experience of driving among the wind turbines outside of Adair on I-80. And, thank you for showing through your experience that clean energy can be affordable and accessible today.
- 134 is the number of state senators and representatives - all but four individuals - that supported renewing and extending the state's solar energy tax credit. That was a truly impressive show of bipartisanship, and showed that clean energy offers health, economic, and environmental benefits that everyone can be excited about.
- 448 is the number of turbines that Siemens will manufacture for MidAmerican in the world's largest order for on-shore wind turbines. All of these turbines will be manufactured in Iowa, creating 500 jobs at a manufacturing facility in Lee County, as well as 1,000 construction jobs and 40 permanent jobs around the state. Iowa is one of only a handful of states that have the entire supply chain for the manufacturing of wind turbines. As the wind industry grows both within and outside the state, then, good manufacturing jobs are created and supported. For this reason and more, renewable energy was listed as one of the 13 industries most key to Iowa's economic development. Thank you, Iowa, for streamlining the supply chain for wind turbines in such a centrally located part of the country!
- 17,634 is the number of Iowans that sent messages of support to EPA for the Clean Power Plan. Businesses recognized the promise of economic growth; public health associations acknowledged the benefits of reducing air pollution; government leaders concerned about increased flooding and droughts in the state lauded the action on climate change. This show of support reflecting polling showing overwhelming support for curbing carbon pollution from power plants and supporting clean energy solutions. Thank you, Iowa, for supporting action in your own backyard that can help ease burdens faced all over the world.
- 22,000 is the number of Iowa jobs in clean energy that are supported today by strong clean energy policies. According to the Advanced Energy Economy Institute (AEE), "Employment in advanced energy-related businesses is greater than employment reported for crop production, general freight trucking, and animal production;" these jobs include workers maintaining wind turbines and solar panels, but also the carpenters and electricians and HVAC workers and more who provide energy efficiency services.
These jobs are created and supported by the state's clean energy policies. For instance, Iowa has adopted the 2012 IECC building code, which sets a minimum standard of efficiency for residential and commercial buildings. This has helped to reduce both consumer costs and carbon emissions -energy use in homes and office buildings goes down, electricity bills go down, and power plants to produce that electricity are run less. In addition, Iowa's energy efficiency resource standard (utilities must administer energy efficiency programs and achieve a certain amount of energy savings) and a renewable portfolio standard (a certain amount of electricity must be generated from renewable sources) have also promoted the clean energy industries that are so essential to Iowa's economy. Thank you for your practical, cost- and energy-saving actions over the decades!
For all these reasons and so many more, Iowa, you have earned my esteem and devotion. To be sure, there are flaws in our relationship and we face some serious challenges, but I look forward to working on those together in the months and years that lie before us.
Image credit: Idccollage, used with permission.