Saying Renewable Energy has the potential to fuel the transformation of Iowa’s economy and provide substantial economic benefits to the state, Gov. Tom Vilsack outlined his plan for US$50 million in state investments in Renewable Energy as a part of his proposed Iowa Values Fund.Des Moines, Iowa – March 12, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The Governor said his plan will not only help Iowa become more energy independent, but also will create jobs and spur business investment throughout the state. “Renewable Energy can help fuel the transformation of Iowa’s economy,” Vilsack said. “Iowa currently spends US$4 billion per year on energy imported from out of state. We need to keep that money in Iowa. We can do that if we tap into Iowa’s natural potential to become a leader in Renewable Energy. The economic benefits could be substantial.” “Energy projects tend to spur additional business investments in the surrounding area that create jobs in a variety of fields,” said Vilsack. “We need to pursue an aggressive strategy for Renewable Energy development. This could be the spark that will light a fire under the Iowa economy.” The US$50 million for Renewable Energy will be designated for the following initiatives (USD): – US$10 million to help school districts use wind technology to produce Renewable Energy; – US$5 million to the Iowa Energy Center to construct distributed small Renewable Energy systems; – US$10 million to encourage the use of biomass-powered electrical systems; – US$5 million for grants to purchase and install anaerobic digestive systems; – US$10 million for grants and loans to develop transmission and distribution systems for wind energy; – US$10 million for constructing wind generation facilities Vilsack’s plan will also help schools become more energy efficient by allowing older, less energy efficient schools to pay for infrastructure and upgrading costs with energy savings spread out over time. “This is a win-win situation,” Vilsack said. “Energy efficient schools use less energy and save money.” Vilsack pointed to escalating gas prices and the country’s growing dependence on foreign oil as further evidence of the critical need for Iowa to develop renewable energies and become energy independent. The Governor also voiced support for federal legislation to establish a renewable fuels standard, which was reintroduced in February in the United States Senate by Senators Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE). Governor Vilsack is a member of the Governors’ Ethanol Coalition, which discussed the legislation during the recent National Governors Association meetings in Washington, D.C. The legislation maintains key provisions of a bill passed in 2002 by the United States Senate, including a 5 billion gallon renewable fuel requirement, elimination of the federal RFG oxygen standard, and banning the fuel additive MBTE within four years.