DES MOINES — U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz opened a two-day swing through Iowa on Friday by praising the state’s leadership in “this clean energy revolution” with its emphasis on wind, solar and biofuels that will aid in reducing dependence on foreign oil and bolster energy security.
Moniz said he was impressed by Gov. Terry Branstad’s expectation that 40 percent of Iowa’s electricity would come from wind energy by 2020, and he called Iowa “forward-looking” in coupling its low-cost, reliable energy with economic development.
The energy secretary’s comments came at the start of a regional stakeholder meeting focusing on the U.S. electric power system, including the integration of new technologies, changing market conditions and evolving grid operations.
Moniz said he expects the public input will lead to a new set of recommendations later this year for federal policymakers to consider in the future.
“Energy security remains a major issue,” said Moniz, who noted America’s oil production is up, but the nation remains an importer. The energy insecurity of other nations makes it an important international issue as well.
The Obama administration is interested in increasing fuel efficiency in vehicles, focusing on the “electrification” of vehicles and developing alternative liquid fuels, “like advanced biofuels,” to reduce that dependency on imported oil, he said.
Moniz said Friday’s regional discussion in Iowa was part of the second installment of the Quadrennial Energy Review, an integrated study of the U.S. electricity system. The initial phase examined key infrastructure needed for transmission, storage and distribution of energy, while the current installment is focused on the electric power system from generation through transmission and distribution to end use.
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Branstad told Moniz that Iowa “has come a long way in the last 33 years” since being the first state to establish a Renewable Fuel Standard, “and we’re not done.” He said Iowa is moving ahead with wind, solar and geothermal energy — including the governor’s Terrace Hill mansion that utilizes geothermal advances.
Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said Iowa is in the process of establishing a comprehensive statewide energy strategy that will be a “blueprint” for the future, while Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie told Friday’s gathering that “we see what the future is, and we see it’s renewables.”
The energy secretary’s Iowa itinerary took him to Ames on Friday afternoon where he delivered remarks at the dedication of the Ames Laboratory’s Sensitive Instrument Facility. He is slated to deliver the commencement address at Iowa State University today.