On Wednesday, August 14, 2019 members of the Iowa Future Caucus led a tour of renewable energy facilities in the Hawkeye State. Legislators sought to learn more about renewable energy and the opportunities it creates for jobs, the economy and the environment. While the bipartisan tour was spearheaded by the Iowa Future Caucus, all members of the legislature were invited to participate.
During the tour, legislators learned the processes for making ethanol, biodiesel and electricity from other natural resources such as solar and wind. Legislators also discussed the challenges in hiring qualified new employees and opportunities for the state to create a more amicable business environment for alternative fuel producers and plant operation staff. Golden Grain Energy Commodity Manager Curt Strong noted that issues around hiring are “fairly common but we've gotten sophisticated in our recruiting tactics."
In addition to the large impact the renewable energy industry has on the state’s economy—employing around 48,000 people and accounting for up to three percent of the state’s GDP—the Future Caucus saw this as an opportunity for legislators to learn about issues beyond a partisan framework.
The bipartisan nature of renewable energy was the impetus of the energy tour. "We see a lot of things Democrats and Republicans can work together on," Senator Zach Wahls stated, noting that energy was one of those areas. Representative Joe Mitchell added that it was a learning opportunity with bipartisan partisan appeal.
"Renewable energy isn't a partisan issue – it's the best possible public-private investment in Iowa's future. The return on cultivating renewables helps our communities, our businesses, and our state attract long-term economic partners and retain our best workforce," remarked Senator Zach Nunn.
Over the course of the day, legislators made four stops at an array of energy facilities: Golden Grain Energy and Renewable Energy Group in Mason City; Next Era Wind Farm in Story County; and Moxie Solar in Johnson County. Sen. Zach Nunn recognized the day as a “great opportunity for us all to learn and showcase Iowa as a pioneer in a diversity of renewable energy efforts.”