Two advocacy groups have organized a four-state bike tour of mid-sized rural communities to highlight the potential for rural economic development from investments in renewable energy. David Osterberg, the director of the Iowa Policy Project says the trip starts Monday in Howard, South Dakota. Osterberg says Iowa has dropped from third to fourth in the past six months in wind production. He says Minnesota has passed us because they have better policy than we do. He says Iowa is doing better than South Dakota. Osterberg visited Europe in 2002 and says that trip proved renewable energy is a viable option. He say the potential is “really, really, big” and he says it could really spur economic development in rural areas. Osterberg says his organization, along with the League of Rural Voters put out the information, but he says it’s up to the voters to lobby the legislature. Osterberg says Iowa’s law requiring companies to generate two percent of their power from renewable sources is outdated. He says a utility company is a monopoly and that’s why you have to force them to buy renewable energy and let the price be determined by the market. He says if we set the renewal requirement at 10 or 20 percent, there would be more steel put up in rural areas and more jobs created. Osterberg says the power companies wield great power in the Iowa Legislature and don’t support some of the proposed changes.
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