A conference coming up in St. Louis next month could have a big impact on Iowa’s renewable energy industry. Tom Dorr is an Undersecretary for Rural Development with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and says a number of experts are invited.
Dorr says they’re hoping to do a better job getting the renewable resources into the marketplace by identifying bottlenecks, and that hopefully will lead to policy recommendations to speed up the process.
Dorr is a Marcus, Iowa, native who says the government wants to find the best way to use its tools to help the process. He says they’re looking at how they can do a better job of examining policy incentives such as tax credits, loan guarantees, or expedited processes, that would reduce the risk and accelerate the deployment of the new energy resources.
Dorr says the goal is to take advantage of the momentum renewable energy is gaining. Dorr says they hope to advance the understanding the opportunities of distributing the new resources into the “legacy system.” Or in other words, working in the new energy with the current energy systems. Dorr says the use of the 85-percent ethanol blend is an example of the problem.
Dorr says there’s a lot of the “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” talk. For example, do you push building more E-85 cars first or do you start with E-85 fueling stations. Dorr says there are a lot of people who think that a significant issue that needs to be discussed as they determine how to build the industry out. Gas prices have fallen down near two-dollars a gallon in Iowa recently, but Dorr says that drop won’t take the steam out of the push for renewable fuels.
Dorr says the high costs of fuel now is much different than the late 70’s and early 80’s when the oil shortage was created by oil producers. Dorr says now there are geopolitical concerns, but also three-billion more people with the fall of the Iron Curtain that want more from their lives and are using more energy. Dorr says that should keep the focus on improving the use of renewable energy. The conference is October 10-12th.