Iowa Energy Plan includes role ethanol can play in state's future

By Ann Bailey | December 29, 2016

Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds has released to the public the Iowa Renewable Energy Plan, which establishes priorities and provides strategic guidance for Iowa’s energy future.

The plan was created to provide a “clear path to ensure Iowans have access to affordable, reliable clean energy, while recognizing energy’s strategic importance to the Iowa’s economy,” according to the plan’s executive summary.

“IRFA appreciates Lt. Gov. Reynold’s recognition of the role biofuels have played in powering Iowa’s economy,” Iowa Renewable Fuels Association said. “And we commend the Iowa Energy Plan for seeking to build on this foundation, as there is much more biofuels and biomass can do for Iowa in the future.”

Development of the comprehensive state energy plan began in 2015. Since then, six forums, attended by hundreds of Iowa residents, have been held to get input for the plan and 48 Iowa residents were members of working groups which helped identify strategies that could be important parts of Iowa’s energy future. The plan is made up of 15 objectives and 45 strategies which, together, propose a balanced approach to Iowa’s energy sector while emphasizing sustainable practices, statewide economic development and support the research and development required to keep the state on the cutting edge of innovation, the Iowa Energy Plan executive summary said.

One of the themes identified as key in the plan is alternative fuel vehicles. The plan notes that increasingly more stringent fuel economy standards have enhanced the need for auto makers to embrace diversification of transportation fuels and vehicles. Iowa, which has a plentiful supply of ethanol and biodiesel, has an opportunity to help the auto industry meet its fuel economy targets while increasing economic gain, the executive summary said. The executive summary notes that customers and businesses continue to benefit from expanded access to higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel at affordable prices and that diversification of transportation fuels results in energy security, economic advantages and environmental benefits.

Strategies that help grow Iowa’s biofuels industry will lead to higher diversification in available fuel sources for consumers and businesses and also result in more affordable distribution of the biofuels which will mean savings for customers and operators of fueling infrastructure. Continued growth in the use of alternative fuel vehicles requires strategic collaboration with the renewable fuels industry, utilities, auto manufacturers, fuel retailers and related industry shareholders, the executive summary said.  That includes giving incentives for alternative fueling infrastructure such as blender pumps. It is key to fostering successful business models the regulatory barriers which have an impact on infrastructure development are addressed. Collaborating with the ethanol industry and auto makers to produce the next generation of highly efficient vehicles to run optimally on ethanol is a critical factor for sustaining the industry’s growth, the executive summary said.

“Optimizing vehicles for biofuels and empowering consumers to choose higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel will be keys to unlocking this potential,” IRFA said. “We look forward to working with Lt. Gov. Reynolds to put this plan in action for the betterment of Iowa farmers, consumers and workers.”