Unfolding Energy Release Iowa Energy Assessment and Planning For A Cleaner Future Report

Paritosh Kasotia is the founder and CEO of Unfolding Energy and was named to the Midwest Energy News list of “40 under 40” last year. She led the Iowa Energy Office until late 2014. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Unfolding Energy, a not-for-profit organization released its Iowa Energy Assessment and Planning for a Cleaner Future Report. The report is intended for the State of Iowa, elected officials, Iowans, and potential political candidates as a resource to guide the Iowa Energy Office’s planning process as they work towards creating a statewide energy plan.

The report provides an overview of Iowa’s energy production and consumption patterns and dives into Iowa’s current regulatory and policy framework in the context of climate change, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and building codes. Other sections of the report examines the potential for various clean energy sources and concludes the report with recommendations that the State of Iowa should implement.

Excerpt from the report below

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Dubuque still leads on sustainability

Last year Bleeding Heartland discussed some promising changes in Dubuque, thanks to the vision of community leaders who launched the SustainableDubuque initiative in 2006. Now called the “Dubuque 2.0” sustainability initiative, the program has helped bring the city a long list of recognitions and awards.

Government and public entities: The U.S. Conference of Mayors named Dubuque the country’s “Most Livable Small City” for 2008. The Economic Development Administration (an agency within the federal Commerce Department) gave the an award for “excellence in historic preservation-led strategies” in 2009. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Transportation and Department of Housing and Urban Development selected Dubuque for sustainability pilot programs, also in 2009. The Iowa League of Cities named Dubuque an All-Star Community this year.

Business groups and business-oriented media: Dubuque landed on Sperling’s Best Places top ten “Most Affordable Places to Live and Work” in 2009; was third best in the country for job growth, according to Careerbuilder.com in 2010; and was the seventh best city under 200,000 population in “Economic Growth Potential,” according to Business Facilities magazine in 2010. Dubuque also won an Excellence in Economic Development award this year from the International Economic Development Council, while Forbes.com named it both the “Best Small City to Raise a Family” and “Best Smaller Metro for Projected Job Growth” nationwide.

Non-profit organizations: Dubuque came in third place at the International Awards for Livable Communities in 2010 in the category of cities with populations between 20,000 and 75,000. The city won the 1000 Friends of Iowa 2010 Best Development Award in the leadership category for its recently adopted Unified Development Code, which “promotes best practices in sustainable development and will serve as a model for other cities in Iowa.” (Side note: Dubuque also contains more private Best Development Award winning-projects than any other Iowa city. Most recently, the “beauty and authenticity” of the Hotel Julien historic rehabilitation earned it the 1000 Friends of Iowa 2010 Best Development Award in the renovated and commercial/civic category.)

Too many Iowa politicians portray eco-friendly policies as bad for business or economic growth. Dubuque is proving that sustainability makes a community more attractive to potential job-creators:

According to Mike Blouin, president of the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation, the cachet that comes with operating a business in a sustainable region is becoming increasingly important.

“A growing segment of companies — manufacturers and service providers — want to be a part of this trend,” he said. “They want to be a part of communities that are into sustainability, and they believe it will be easier to attract the kind of workforce they want there. Or companies may manufacture items used in these sustainable communities. Whatever it might be, they want sustainability to be a part of their message.”

He added, “You can be pro-economic development and be sustainable. They’re not mutually exclusive. A smarter city is not the initial thing companies look at, because they still have to make money. The community has to make sense overall, but if it does, sustainability could very well be a deal-maker. If there are a half-dozen cities in front of a company, it may look at smarter sustainability and see that it fits the company’s philosophy. Final decisions are made by those kinds of factors.”

In 2009, the IBM corporation renovated the historic Roshek building in partnership with the city of Dubuque and selected the city for sustainability pilot programs. After the jump I’ve posted more details on some projects implemented this year. These benefit the city by finding ways to reduce costs and use of resources, and benefit IBM by promoting technologies it hopes to sell to other cities.

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Appliance Rebate Fiasco

(Someone had better fix this problem quickly. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

I thought that the appliance rebate was going to make some good headlines for Gov. Culver.  But it looks like it is going down as a fiasco.  The program was supposed to start at 8:00AM today, but by 8:10, the website was already down.  

It only had the message: "The service is unavailable."  

 The phone lines are also jammed.  Most of the time I don't even get a busy signal, it just leaves me hanging, listening to static.  Has anyone else tried to get a rebate yet?

UPDATE from desmoinesdem: The $2.8 million in stimulus money for these rebates in Iowa was exhausted in one day. Representative Bruce Braley has urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “to include funding for clean energy appliance rebate programs in any jobs legislation considered by the House.”

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Stimulus bill anniversary thread

It’s been a year since President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (better known as the stimulus bill) into law. I didn’t like the early concessions Obama made to Republicans in a fruitless effort to win their support for the stimulus. I was even more upset with later compromises made to appease Senate conservadems and Republican moderates. They reduced spending in several areas that had real stimulative value (school construction funds, extra money for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, aid to state governments) in order to include tax cuts that have much less stimulus “bang for the buck.” Senator Tom Harkin was right to question why 9 percent of the stimulus bill’s cost went toward fixing the alternative minimum tax, for instance.

Still, I supported passage of the stimulus bill. In late 2008 and early 2009 the U.S. economy was losing 600,000 to 700,000 jobs per month. Something had to be done. On balance, the stimulus did much more good than bad. Economists agree it has saved or created a lot of jobs:

Just look at the outside evaluations of the stimulus. Perhaps the best-known economic research firms are IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody’s Economy.com. They all estimate that the bill has added 1.6 million to 1.8 million jobs so far and that its ultimate impact will be roughly 2.5 million jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, an independent agency, considers these estimates to be conservative.

Two and a half million jobs isn’t enough to compensate for the 8 million jobs lost since this recession began, but it’s a start.

Not only did the stimulus create jobs, it greatly increased spending on programs that will have collateral benefits. Incentives to make homes more energy efficient will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save consumers money that they can spend elsewhere. Money for sewer improvements will provide lasting gains in water quality (inadequate sewers and septic systems are a huge problem in Iowa). The stimulus included $8 billion for high-speed rail. It wasn’t nearly enough, of course; we could have spent ten or twenty times that amount on improving our rail networks. But that $8 billion pot drew $102 billion in grant applications from 40 states and Washington, DC. The massive demand for high-speed rail stimulus funding increases the chance that Congress will allocate more funds for rail transportation in the future.

Unfortunately, most Americans don’t believe the stimulus bill created jobs. That’s largely because unemployment remains at a historically high level of 10 percent nationwide. Also, inflation-adjusted average weekly earnings have gone down during the past year. In addition, Republicans have stayed on message about the worthlessness of the stimulus bill, even though scores of them have hailed stimulus spending in their own states and districts.

Democrats on the House Labor and Education Committee released an ad that lists various popular stimulus bill provisions, such as increasing Pell Grants and teacher pay. The ad uses the tag line, “There’s an act for that,” naming the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act at the end. I don’t think it’s effective, because the ad doesn’t include the word “stimulus.” Few people will realize that the ARRA refers to the stimulus bill.

Bleeding Heartland readers, how do you view the stimulus one year later?

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Weekend open thread and events coming up during the next ten days

This thread is for anything on your mind this weekend. After the jump I’ve posted details about lots of upcoming events in early February.

If you want to watch Senator Chuck Grassley do the “Friday Happy Dance” on WHO-TV, head on over to Dave Price’s blog.

The Polk County Democrats need more submissions of original recipes for the “Liberally Seasoned” cookbook they are compiling. By February 6, send polkdems AT gmail.com a word document including your full name and precinct, a paragraph about the dish, and a picture of the dish or yourself if possible. Categories: salads, appetizers, main dishes, vegetarian, desserts and drinks. They plan to have the cookbook ready by the Polk County Convention on March 12. For questions, call 515-285-1800.

DAWN’s List, which works to elect Democratic pro-choice women in Iowa, is seeking nominations for awards that will be given in five categories. Details are below, and nominations are due by the end of the day on February 1.

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 2)

Following up on my review of news from the first half of last year, I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from July through December 2009 after the jump.

Hot topics on this blog during the second half of the year included the governor’s race, the special election in Iowa House district 90, candidates announcing plans to run for the state legislature next year, the growing number of Republicans ready to challenge Representative Leonard Boswell, state budget constraints, and a scandal involving the tax credit for film-making.

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