I was disappointed to see the Gazette reach premature and inaccurate conclusions about the Iowa Energy Center in its March 10 editorial, “Warnings of Iowa energy-related conflicts come to fruition.” Ultimately, I think we share many of the same goals, including a commitment to maintain our state’s energy leadership.
The Iowa Energy Plan, released in December 2016 by then-Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, in partnership with Iowa Economic Development Authority and Department of Transportation, was a significant, collaborative undertaking. The plan brings the best thinking from across state agencies, environmental groups, private industry and public interests together into one road map for the future. The Iowa Energy Plan should and does guide our state-funded efforts, including the Iowa Energy Center’s purpose.
If the plan is the roadmap to our future success, the center is one of the vehicles driving us toward energy economic development. The center is overseen by a governor-appointed board with representation from academia, state government and the utilities. This is the same representation as before IEDA assumed administrative management in October 2017, but now the center board has full authority to fulfill its mission. Importantly, board meetings are open to the public and the center is required to report annually to the legislature.
The Iowa Energy Plan was the beginning, not the end, of stakeholder engagement in Iowa’s energy policy. The Biomass Conversion Action Committee and soon-to-be-formed Energy Storage Committee are just a few examples of direct stakeholder participation in implementing the energy plan.
I encourage anyone who is interested in the future of Iowa’s energy policy to focus less on the location of the energy center and more on implementing the energy plan. Let’s all take ownership for being informed about, and engaged in, the important work that needs to be done.
We value and operate with transparency at IEDA. I welcome diverse input and collaboration because that is how we will ensure Iowa’s energy leadership into the future.
• Debi Durham is director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority.