By Senator Paul McKinley, Iowa Senate Republican Leader
Iowa needs energy.
We need clean, affordable, abundant and reliable energy to power the growth and job creation of the future. With plentiful and dependable sources of lower cost energy brings the opportunity for widespread private sector job creation and the revitalization and renewal of our communities.
Though this year’s legislative session may have been one of missed opportunities when it comes to encouraging private sector job creation, implementing responsible budgeting and providing property tax relief, the Legislature did take a major step forward in the area of energy production.
All Senate Republicans along with some Senate Democrats joined together to pass a bill that allows MidAmerican Energy to conduct a $15 million dollar feasibility study to determine the possibility of constructing a brand new state-of-the-art nuclear power plant in Iowa. If MidAmerican moves forward with this project, construction could begin as early as 2014.
Iowa has many aging energy plants that are becoming more out-dated and therefore more expensive to operate. Earlier this year, Alliant Energy, another major energy company in Iowa, asked the Iowa Utilities Board to approve a phased in 10 – 14 percent rate hike for their approximately 480,000 customers over three years.
Rate hikes will continue to occur if we do not increase our base load energy generation in Iowa. We cannot continue to rely solely on our existing aging infrastructure to meet the challenges that lie ahead. Iowans will pay more. Higher energy costs will only continue to hold back our economy and kill job creation.
Our state must embrace the energy technology of the 21st Century that will bring the clean, affordable, abundant and reliable energy needed to move Iowa forward.
That’s why the move last year by Governor Culver’s own appointees, who regulate the state’s energy industry, is so disappointing. Citing radical environmental beliefs, Culver’s appointees killed a $1.7 billion dollar clean coal plant that was to be built near Marshalltown.
Not only would the construction of that plant have been a significant step forward toward the goal of significantly increasing Iowa’s base load energy supply, it would have lead to the creation of 1400 temporary construction jobs, dozens of permanent high-paying jobs and provided a jolt of added vigor into the Central Iowa economy.
A promising project stopped dead in its tracks and a major set back for Iowa’s economic future.
Even after the Marshalltown plant was killed, Governor Culver attempted to re-appoint some of the same extreme appointees but Senate Republicans, utilizing the Senate’s role of advise and consent, denied those individuals another term on these important regulatory boards and commissions.
After four years of too much spending, not enough saving, higher property taxes, rampant job losses and another session of missed opportunities on the key priorities that Iowans care most about, this energy bill is positive step in the right direction. This is the kind of issue that all of Iowa’s elected officials should be united in support of but yet many Senate Democrats still voted “No”.
Iowa’s energy rates are some of the lowest in the nation and we must take every action to keep them there. Clean, affordable, abundant and reliable energy is one of the keys to attracting the employers, businesses and entrepreneurs we need to grow our state, keep our kids and grandchildren here and revitalize our communities.
Going forward, Iowa needs to pursue all possibilities when it comes to providing the energy of the future. Our goal should be to generate more energy in Iowa so we do not have to import as much energy from foreign entities. Whether it is wind and solar, ethanol and biodiesel, nuclear and clean coal, oil and natural gas or other sources of renewable and alternative energy, the Iowa economy of tomorrow demands that we take an all of the above approach.