Culver Signs Power Fund Bill Into Law

State will spend $100 million over four years to aid development of renewable energy.

Iowa Governor Chet Culver signed legislation into law last week that will pump $100 million into the state's effort on renewable fuel research and production. The legislation will allocate the money to promote and foster increased development and use of ethanol, biodiesel, windpower and other renewable sources of energy.

Culver called the Iowa Power Fund Bill historic legislation, telling a crowd of 50 people at the signing ceremony at Iowa State University that "Our 21st Century Iowa expedition starts now." He added, "This will begin the process of making our entire state a laboratory so that Iowa remains on the cutting edge in producing all forms of renewable energy.

Make Iowa energy-independent

The legislation will do several things. For example, it creates a new Office of Energy Independence. The office will pursue new research investments with government and private businesses, as well as help create an Iowa energy independence plan. "The goal is to wean Iowa from its dependence on foreign oil by 2025," says Culver.

The governor signed the Iowa Power Fund Bill (HF 918) in a May 23 ceremony at the Food Sciences Building at ISU in Ames. Later that afternoon, he signed the Power Fund Appropriations bill (HF 927) into law at the Center for Energy & Environment Education at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

"Today, I believe, is the time for Iowa to take the lead in the race to become the energy capital of the world," said Culver. "The Power Fund is an exciting, forward-thinking plan that will coordinate our efforts as we explore our new energy frontier. By signing the Power Fund into law, we can create the jobs of the future in Iowa that will keep our kids at home where they belong. I believe the Power Fund is one of the most important pieces of legislation the Iowa legislature has passed in recent history, and I commend them for their efforts."

What will Iowa Power Fund do?

The goal of the Power Fund is to invest in cutting edge research and development that is required in the new energy economy. "This will create the jobs of the future and work to wean ourselves off foreign oil," says Culver.

The governor's staff handed out a printed explanation of the specifics on the newly signed Iowa Power Fund legislation, and what it will do:

* Establishes Office of Energy Independence. The director of this new state office will be appointed by the governor. This person will among other things: 1) Coordinate administration of the fund; 2) Coordinate existing state and federal energy policy programs; 3) Pursue new research investment funds from public and private sources; 4) Establish renewable energy performance measures; 5) Develop an Iowa Energy Independence Plan.

Who can apply for grants from the fund? Anyone working to research, develop, commercialize and implement new ways to wean America off of foreign oil. This includes developing and using new types of renewable energy, such as emerging biofuels like cellulosic ethanol and by improving the efficiency of energy use.

* Establishes a due diligence committee. This panel will consist of 7 members, individuals who will review recommendations that come before the Power Fund Board. People serving on this committee will include an Office of Energy Independence appointee with business expertise; a state Board of Regents representative; a representative from the Iowa Department of Economic Development; a representative from the Iowa Energy Center; a Department of Economic Development biotechnology commercialization representative. Also, two members of the Power Fund Board will serve on this committee.

The Iowa Power Fund Board will have 11 members. They include the Iowa Utilities Board chairman or designee, Iowa Department of Economic Development Director or designee, Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director or designee and the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture or designee. The governor gets to appoint the other seven members. These seven are to serve 3-year terms and they must be confirmed by the Senate.

In addition, there are 7 ex-officio members representing the Legislature, state Board of Regents, Iowa Association of Community College Presidents and Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

* Establishes energy independence plan. A plan will be developed by the director of the Office of Energy Independence with the assistance of DNR and with public and private partners selected by the director of the office. The plan will provide options and strategies for reducing Iowa's consumption of energy, dependence on foreign sources of energy, use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions. This plan will provide for achieving independence from foreign sources by 2025. The plan will be submitted to the governor and the general assembly by December 14, 2007.

* Establishes energy efficiency study. The Iowa Utilities Board will conduct a study of energy efficiency plans and programs offered by all natural gas and electric utilities to determine status and effectiveness of such programs. Results of the study should be made to the General Assembly by January 1, 2008.

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