A Republican gubernatorial candidate is taking aim at one of Democratic Governor Chet Culver’s priority programs. Republican candidate Chris Rants of Sioux City says it’s time to shut down the "Iowa Power Fund" which has given state grants to renewable energy projects.
"I think the Power Fund is not the best use of our money," Rants says. "At a time when we have a billion dollar budget deficit…I think that’s one of the first places the legislature ought to look at cutting to try to come up with the money to balance our budget."
Rants and Culver disagree on the Power Fund’s impact. Rants says the Iowa Power Fund hasn’t created as many of the so-called "green jobs" Culver has been touting.
"We just got results back on how many jobs have actually been created and to date it’s only 100 jobs for a $50 million investment," Rants says. "I’m not sure that most Iowans think that $500,000 per job created is a good return on the money that’s being spent."
Culver is in Alaska this weekend, citing a report which shows there are five-thousand more people employed in Iowa’s "green industries" today than there were five years ago. Culver is giving the keynote address at today’s Renewable Energy Fair in Anchorage.
"I would hope that while Governor Culver is out in Alaska promoting his ‘green jobs’ fund that he actually tells Alaskans — and he should tell Iowans — how much money we’re spending per job," Rants says.
But a spokesman for Culver says Rants "has his facts wrong" and is citing an out-dated report. About $47.5 million in Power Fund money has been spent to date, but $7.5 million of that was used last fall to help flood victims according to the governor’s deputy chief of staff. About $35 million in Power Fund money has been awarded to renewable energy projects, and the governor’s staff says the grants helped fund construction jobs in addition to on-going employment in places like wind turbine production lines.
Finally, $5 million of "Power Fund" money has been sent to Iowa’s community colleges to finance programs that train workers in the renewable energy field.