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Clean Energy is Good Business for Iowa All Around

Jackie Roberts PhotoWhat do you do when a major new customer arrives in town asking for renewable energy?   You supply it.  Facebook’s decision to locate a new data center in Iowa and supply that data center with 100% wind energy is a great example of a company using its clout for good.  To show its seriousness of intent, Facebook simultaneously pursued development rights to two wind parcels, one in Iowa and Nebraska, alongside its traditional site evaluation for a new data center.  Iowa won the new data center, in no small part due to its leadership in the wind sector.

According to Vincent Van Son, Facebook’s Data Center Energy Manager, “When we settled on Altoona as the location for our fourth data center, one of the deciding factors was the opportunity to help develop a new wind project in the state. The project brings additional investment and jobs to the region, and in effect it makes it possible, on an annualized basis, for 100% of our energy needs to be met entirely with one of Iowa’s most abundant renewable resources.” Facebook worked with a local developer, RPM Access, and then at a key point, transferred ownership to a major utility, Mid-American.  This project enabled Facebook to announce last week that the new data center will be supplied by 100% renewable energy.

As we profiled last year with Collaborative Economics, Iowa views the wind sector as a powerful economic development driver.  As a result, it has emerged as an epicenter of wind in all facets – installations, innovation and manufacturing strength.  Iowa’s multi-pronged clean energy strategy continues to deliver economic wins in 2013.  Read More »

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30 Years Of Forward-Thinking Leaders Has Spurred Iowa’s Clean Tech Growth

People who haven’t been following the renewable energy industry will be forgiven for their reaction when they’re told that Iowa is among the most advanced, opportunistic state in the cleantech economy.  “Iowa?  Isn’t that corn country?”

Well, yes.  But it’s also wind country.  And like few other states, Iowans have turned their constant breeze into a powerful economic force.

This is the last in a trio of posts highlighting the findings from EDF’s reports on the cleantech economies of Ohio, Colorado and Iowa (here is my last post on Ohio).  Today, I’ll focus on Iowa.

Despite its size, Iowa produces the second most wind power in the U.S. (Texas is #1 and California is #3) and is one of only two states that receives over 20% of its electricity from wind power.  More impressive has been the state’s ability to capture the economic — not just the environmental — benefit of that ranking.  According to the American Wind Energy Association, Iowa has attracted more major wind industry manufacturers than any other state.  It’s a great example of supply meeting demand.

Politically, wind power has been supported by both parties for three decades.  It was the first state to pass a Renewable Portfolio Standard, under republican Governor Terry Branstad in 1983.  In 2005, democratic Governor Tom Vilsack signed a tax credit for renewable energy production.  And in 2007 democratic Governor Chet Culver created the Iowa Power Fund to invest in local renewable energy research and development projects.  This level of across-the-aisle cooperation is unique among states and has given Iowa a considerable advantage in competing against larger and richer states. Read More »

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