Governor Chet Culver will make stops in Ames and Cedar Falls today to sign bills into law which set up the "Iowa Power Fund" he asked legislators to create. Culver calls it "symbolic" to go to the campuses of Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa to act on the legislation.
"Our Regents institutions in particular will play a very vital role in helping Iowa potentially fuel the country and help fuel the world with our biofuels," Culver says. The "Iowa Power Fund" sets up a new state grant program to finance research in the renewable fuels industry. Culver expects that over the next four years I.S.U. and U.N.I. will receive money from the fund.
"It’s very likely that some of the $100 million that will be earmarked for research and development related to all forms of renewable energy — whether it’s biofuels or geothermal or wind or solar or biomass — that research will take place and already is taking place on or near these campuses," Culver says.
The governor describes the university research parks as "economic engines" of the biofuels industry. "We will be able to attract more entrepreneurs, more researchers and ultimately more jobs because of that," Culver says. Culver will be in the Food Sciences Building in Ames at noon to sign the bill into law that creates the so-called "Power Fund.
At 2:30 this afternoon, the governor will be at the Center for Energy and Environmental Education in Cedar Falls to sign the bill which provides the money for the Power Fund. Critics of the "Power Fund" worry the board which decides who gets the grants is appointed by the governor, and they charge Culver might use the program as a "slush fund" to reward political patrons.