A new study promises big benefits if the state invests in renewable energy. The report released Tuesday from the Chicago-based environmental law and policy center says Iowa could reap 12-thousand new jobs and a billion dollars in new econonomic activity if it boosts its investment in windpower and bio-mass energy. Spokesman Hans Detweiler says much of the benefit will be revenue for farmers whose land houses wind turbines. Typically if a developer builds a windfarm they get royalty payments of two to 6-thousand dollars a year, which is stable and predictable as commodities often are not. Detweiler says farmers also benefit if their crops can be turned into bio-mass energy. The projections in the study are based on Iowa’s increasing its use of renewable energy to eight-percent by the year 2010 and 20-percent by the year 2020. Iowa law calls for two-percent of the state’s power to be from renewable energy by 2009, but we’re ahead of that, in part because a Wisconsin standard lets them buy power generated elsewhere, and a lot of that is created and sold in Iowa windfarms: proof, he says, that with public support we’ll develop new projects. Detweiler says the state can be confident of meeting those goals, though they’re more ambitious than what Iowa has been planning. He’s very confident and says there are no technical issues; as examples, he says California just passed a 25-percent standard, Maine 30-percent and Iowa has more wind energy than they do. Detweiler says Iowa’s goal of two-percent renewable energy sources by 2009 lags far behind other states that have less windpower than we do.
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