DG 20 Transcript – Green Horizons – Final Show
Voiceover: Welcome to the Dream Green series with co-hosts Stuart Tanner and James Moore on solar-powered KRUU-FM. Iowans creating a greener tomorrow, today. A journey of discovery across the state featuring innovators, cutting edge projects, and communities leading the way to an energy independent and sustainable future. Visit our website at greeniowa.org
James Moore: This is James Moore, welcome to the final segment on this beautiful journey of discovery across the state of Iowa that is the Dream Green Series. Joining me in the studio here at solar-powered KRUU-FM is Stuart Tanner. And we have been all over the state, all across the state, all around the state and we’ve found a wonderful expression of creativity, innovation and approach to sustainable, energy efficient practices and we’re going to sum things up today for you in this final show. Play some clips from the many, many leaders in sustainability that we’ve talked to around the state and share our vision going forward, as well as a sum-up of this twenty part series. Stuart, great to see you, how are you doing today?
ST: Well, great thanks very much. And the sun is still shining even in the middle of October, so everybody’s out and celebrating that fact which is a wonderful thing indeed. I know back in the UK it’s got very cold already, so I’m glad to be here for many reasons. Yeah, we’ve reached the end of the series. I feel as though I know Iowa a great deal better than before we started our journey. I think it’s a state that’s more progressive than most people imagine, and it’s certainly full of people who are creating sustainable models for the future, there are city mayors, companies, universities, government bodies, organizations, they’re all working toward a future that’s more sustainable and promoting the use of renewable energy along with utility companies that we spoke to. So as James said, what we’ve gone through the programs and selected out some of our favorite bits or clips that are interesting talking points. So we’re going to play those to you and then we’re going to have a chat about them and share our thoughts and reflections.
JM: I just want to add before we start, that it’s been great working with you, Stuart as well. With your background as a documentary film maker, travelling all over the world working for BBC, channel 4, National Geographic, and others looking at a lot of different stories from the IMF to the Weigers situation in China, to Amazon, and Middle East, and far and wide. It has really been my pleasure to take this American, Iowa state journey. I think one of the things we’ll talk about that I’m not even sure people in Iowa are familiar with from the reaction I’ve got from the programming, 20% of the electricity of the state coming from wind, pretty impressive. And some companies, as our later shows talked about, Mid-American trying to get up to 25% in terms of their output, but I think we’re going to start where we started actually, with one of our first interviews, Lynnae Hentzen talking about a subject I’ll let you introduce. Lynnae Hentzen was just stepping down as the director for the Center of Sustainable Communities in Des Moines. So do you want to set up this clip?
ST: Thanks James. One of the first people we went to see was Lynnae Hentzen, and she had some very interesting things to say. Some core ideas about the loss of human scale, and promotion of self-sufficiency in communities through bringing about sustainable policies. So let’s have a listen to what Lynnae has to say about that.
Lynnae Hentzen: It’s been said that we’ve lost, as you mentioned, the human scale in our buildings, in our streetscapes, in our communities, and we need to figure out how to recapture that. And a perfect example here in Iowa is the farm. My grandparents homesteaded their farm. They wouldn't have survived without their neighbors and when it came time to harvest, they all rallied around and took turns bringing in the yield for the fall by helping each other. They had to spend a week on everybody's farm, or however long it took, and they worked together, they ate together, they communicated together, they were grateful together, and that has been lost in the larger scale farms. And we're seeing a resurgence of that in the smaller organic farms that are starting to pop up again now, but that strengthens the community when you have that much connection and you know you're there depending on each other. It builds strength and resilience, and we’re getting cracked by not having that connection and resilience anymore.
ST: And I would imagine that one of the benefits that flows out of that is self-sufficiency and independence. It’s precisely because we’re all connected up on this global scale that, what's happening in a country far away with weather, or with political events, or with scarcity of resources, suddenly impacts on us back here. Whereas the more you create this kind of network, the interdependents, the self-sufficiency, locally, the more you can move away from being subject to such shocks. And I suppose we've seen recently how powerful those shocks can be.
LH: Precisely, and it pervades with the environment and again with economics and with all of those things. The more we can have that resilience and independence, as you said, Stuart, right here locally, the more we can withstand some of the future batterings which we’re seeing more and more of.
JM: Well thanks Lynnae. Batterings referring to some of the extreme weather events I know if you followed us along on the journey it may be a perfect day right now, but we went from extreme wet conditions at the beginning of the season to record drought in the Jefferson County area and it was different throughout the state. Reflections there Stuart?
ST: Well, I think one of the really core ideas there is the idea of connectivity. To me one of the powerful things about sustainable policy is that in order for it to happen on a local level it means that people have to reconnect with each other. If you think about how there has been a loss of the human scale, in a way part of that is in everything becoming such large scale operations and disassociated from its geography, its place in the community, the people who run it, the policies that they follow, they’re all from a distance. And I think reinitiating this idea of local connection is a very powerful idea. If you think about it, if you pursue these policies of growing more food locally, if you pursue policies of creating more energy locally, whether it’s in your individual house like we saw in the EcoVillage or small scale energy projects run by a city or so on, I think you’ll find you’re recycling resources in the community a lot, and a lot of people are joining up with each other to make these things happen. That’s a very positive thing for a community, so it’s community-building as well as being good for the economy. And I bet if you analyzed it at every level and you did research you’d find that it even would spill over to things like local entertainment, local cultural events, all sorts of other benefits that come from reconnecting within the community and making those community actions and grassroots activities very powerful and transformative in terms of what they can do. And we go on to talk about that on a larger scale, on a city scale a bit later.
JM: Those are great points, and also just the eco-vision, it broadens out. It’s not just about economy, it’s not just about green aspects, but also about the human aspects which are building the kind of root system that makes for strong plants, strong crops. As a matter of fact, we’ll be talking about perennial crops I know later on in the show as well. But Stuart I wanted to take the discussion another place. When we started on this journey we weren’t sure where the state was at exactly in terms of sustainability, you know some of these concepts have been treated as a little bit far-out and we asked and found, kind of not to our surprise exactly, but a lot of things in Dubuque, in Davenport, in Des Moines. A lot of progress has been made and some things that maybe were little bit further out were a lot further in than I suspected. Right now there seems to be a climate with the new political developments that maybe some caution in terms of developing some of these technologies. Your thoughts there as we lead into the next clip?
ST: One of the great pleasures of our journeys was going to the cities, going to Des Moines, Davenport, Dubuque, and of course we know Fairfield very well, and talking to the mayors. And actually we’re going to play two clips Bill Gluba from Davenport, we had a great day there being shown around various facilities they have there, waste water facility, compost facility, even the police station which is a LEEDs building. It’s really impressive what’s happening, but what I really love about the way Mayor Bill Gluba talks is how matter of fact he is about the inevitability of sustainability, how infused he is.
Bill Gluba: This whole effort in sustainability and addressing environment, that's here to stay. Anyone that fights that is just working against themselves and against the inevitable. The key is to get ahead of it and don't look at it as a threat. Look at it as a plus. Look at it as an opportunity as we do. And that's why we think we're on the cutting-edge, and it's starting to pay off. Davenport, we've got challenges. We certainly need more jobs. But compared to a whole lot of different parts of the country we're beating the system. We've got more jobs. We're not losing people, we're gaining. I guarantee a lot of it's due to this whole question of working with the environment. Promoting sustainability. This is here to stay, and it's not going away, so get on board.
ST: Well, that is Mayor Bill Gluba who’s the mayor of a city of 100,000 people, the third largest city in Iowa, talking about the inevitability of sustainable practices and policies for a city. And indeed Davenport has got on board, and as he was saying this is going to happen, it’s needed, it’s the future. If you stand in the way then really you’re so last century. He also said when we talked to him that he believed that change came from the grassroots level, I think that’s an idea that resonates with a lot of people, particularly at the moment where really leadership is coming from the ground up rather from the top down. That’s a very important thing to note. I love his enthusiasm and I love the way he talks about it. And of course Davenport has seen the benefits of this. It won the City Livability award in the U.S. Conference of Mayors. And indeed we have seen that sustainable policies brings about better quality of life and that draws people to the cities and they enjoy living there more.
JM: You know, it’s interesting Stuart, the good energy seems to drive and support good energy, kind of play off itself. We talked also to Roy Boul in Dubuque, and mighty impressed by many of the things we saw there, but I have to say in both cases the enthusiasm, as in Des Moines, something kind of contagious and of course these individuals are busy with a whole range of issues running a city, being in charge of all the various aspects, but it was interesting for us to see them taking a little time out of their day and sending us around where a lot of great things are going on. In Dubuque we also spoke to the sustainability coordinator there. I have to say that Dubuque again, right there by the Mississippi, the oldest city in Iowa, also what the mayor said, was the only city in America to win an international award for their efforts in this regard. And of course they’ve drawn a business like IBM, refurbished a seven story downtown building to LEED standards and we were able to take a tour of that. But I was really impressed once again by the enthusiasm not only of the mayor, but while we were there what was being reported on the front page of the newspaper, that the city council was talking about reducing greenhouse emissions by 50% over a certain period of time. Any thoughts before we play Mayor Bouls’ clip?
ST: Again it was a wonderful tour of that city, we were treated to seeing their waterfront development as well which is a city planning aspect whereby it used to be the case that you could be close to where you worked, be close to where you go out, have food, and where you shopped and so on. And then it all got separated out. And these waterfront developments bring that back and that actually creates a more sustainable environment as well. Let’s hear the quote from Mayor Roy Boul.
JM: We met him outside so you’ll hear the traffic outside right here on the Dream Green Series, James Moore with Stuart Tanner, we’re broadcasted from solar-powered KRUU-FM. We turn it over to you Mayor Boul.
Roy Boul: When I talk about planning and sustainability, for me it's generational planning. When I was beginning to think about sustainability, it was when I was being blessed with grandchildren. My wife and I now have nine grandchildren and I thought a lot about the future. You know, if we continue down this path that we’re leading, especially in this country--25% of the energy usage in the world is consumed in the United States of America--we had to make some changes, and major changes; not only in the city of Dubuque but globally. So I’m just very gratified with the progress that we’ve had in the city of Dubuque and the leadership that we’ve provided for other communities in this country and globally. I mean, the city of Dubuque is recognized internationally. We’ve won an International Sustainability Award, the only city in the United States to do that. It’s pretty gratifying and, you know, I’m looking for bigger and better things. You know one of the secrets that we have, it’s not really a secret, we tell everybody about it, but we plan ahead. We don’t think about today, we have a vision for the future; where we want to be in 2030 and that’s what guides our current decisions. Our short term, midterm and long range planning is all driven by that vision.
ST: Mayor Roy Boul is a great enthusiast for sustainable planning and what I love about his comments here is about the long term planning, and I think that is something that is very key. Always being caught in the short term is no good for really the transformation needed in order to bring about policies that are really going to make a difference. And I love the way that he talks about how they have a vision for the future which they translate into short term, midterm , and long term planning. The fast-track is no friend to change in a way, delayed gratification maybe is a better way to go in terms of working for future rewards and I think at a community level, at a city level that’s perhaps a little easier to do than at the national level because the politics are all short term. You have like a two year cycle and then you’re electioneering again and that really isn’t very helpful. And there’s a lot of recognition of that and I think what this touches on is a sort of political dimension where there can be challenges which undermine long term planning and we really need that long term thinking in order to move forward with the key ideas and the key plans that will create sustainability locally, on a state level, and nationally.
JM: All the elements have to be there. We’re seeing it playing on a national level economic front with the deficit, for instance, being such an issue, but there’s also a short need for jobs I think in ecosystems we find the same thing. But it really is remarkable on this journey of discovery across the state to find the places where things are really clicking and a lot of that has to do with the community. They said over and over again that the community came together, stepped up. It was the community showing interest and being a big part of the equation for attracting, for instance, a LEED certified building in Fairfield, that the Hy-vee organization decided to put up and elsewhere. So pretty interesting to see all these connections, but we’ll hear more about vision and planning at the very end of this show, we’ll save that for the end. But I wanted to shift gears here a little bit Stuart and talk a little bit about one of the other great aspects of our journey that was going to so many great schools. Whether that was U of I, UNI up north, ISU, Maharishi University is here in Fairfield, with the great sustainability efforts being brought forth to young people in the classroom. We had the great joy of going up to the Leopold Center at Iowa State University there and speaking with Fred Kirschenmann.
ST: Fred Kirschenmann really was a deep thinker in our equation, in our mix. We really had a very extensive and interesting interview with him. I really recommend that people listen to that program, it’s number seven in the series. He made a point during that conversation about the fact that there is good news involved with his key area, which is agriculture. Of course in Iowa agriculture is a major factor, what happens in agriculture really is key in promotion of sustainability, conservation of energy and so on. It was good to hear developments in that area, so let’s hear what he had to say.
Fred Kirschenmann: There is a lot of good news in all of this and we should always pay attention to that and one of those is that there are a lot of individual farmers all across the planet that have already made the transition to the kind of future that we’re talking about. They have very low energy input, very productive there are permaculture models out there where farmers have created this kind of diverse systems, which use very little energy because there is this energy exchange that goes on among the many species that they have on their farm. The Land Institute has been working now for 30 years on varieties of perennial crops and their scientists are now saying that if we do the right amount of research within 30 years we could have 60% of our annual crops in perennials on the landscape. And now we just think about that let me just use my own farmers of example. Right now in North Dakota we’ve had this incredible amount of rain this year, which you can't point to it and say, ah ha that’s a proof that climate change is happening. But it is consistent with the models that climatologists have been telling us. We have had so much rain on our farm this spring that we have not been able to plant all of our crop. As a matter fact some of the reports coming out now are that some farmers have been prevented from planting as much as 80% of their acreage only 6% of the intended acreage of durum wheat has been planted this year. When I just think if we had perennial durum wheat it wouldn’t have to replant it, it would still be doing okay out there. So it's it just one of those examples of the kind of built in resilience so we already are developing the technology. We’re not putting the kind of resources in to make it available as rapidly as we could, things I've been saying is that I think if we could simply devote 30% of our public research dollars and putting our research into exploring these options looking at the examples of individual farmers and most of these are small farms. How do we scale those up? How do we adapt them to different regions because the problems that we’re going to be facing are not going to be uniform across the planet they are going to be very different in terms of different ecologies, different locations, different communities. So we need to have the seed varieties, the breed varieties that are going to be well adapted to those areas and systems that are going to be able to be resilient and functional in each area. But if we were to spend 30% of our research that would make an incredible difference but that's not something that we’re interested we’re still in the state of denial around that one.
JM: And that is Fred Kirschenmann, Leopold Center. Wonderful, wonderful discussion we had with him, a wonderfully gifted thinker on these subjects and to say ‘deep’ would be to put it mildly. Stuart, I know you have some thoughts on this. I just reflect on this denial and the thought of putting 30% toward R&D it seems to be one of those things that is lacking in the national political will, but interesting concept.
ST: Well, I think it’s very clear when you talk with experts of the area like Fred Kirschenmann they have the view that not enough is being invested and what is required in order to build a sustainable future more rapidly. And in this case, as Fred was saying, the varieties of crop and the perennial crops that will be better suited to the more changeable climate that’s arriving and also helps in terms of soil erosion, helps in terms of the runoff of water. We’ve seen a number of those things talked about on our journey and refer you to those programs, to hear some of the research that is going on in Iowa. So Fred is good news with a big but. There is good news in terms of all these models being created. The but is, is it moving fast enough? No, because there’s still a denial of what we need to do, and there needs to be more money, there needs to be more research funds channeled in this direction. And I thought the other really interesting point that he made was about how change really happens. He said that once upon a time he thought his job was to change things, to change the world. And then he sort of adjusted his view in time to realize that no, what he imagined his job was really was to create the models, put together the research that were the basis for when change comes around, when people look around, models exist which function, which work, which actually are there ready to be picked up. And I think that’s a very important point because we’ve talked to many individuals around the state, you know there’s a sustainable living center at Maharishi University of Management, people like David Fisher and Lonnie Gamble doing great work there, there’s so many individuals working on these things in their own way, there’s connections between them. Together they are a force of change, and it’s really are transformational. But a major part of it is they’re making these models work, and when that time comes that they need to be scaled up, or they can to be scaled up, they’re there, they’re already there and they’re already functional and I thought that was a really key thing.
JM: It’s a profound point and when you think about it, rather than beat your head against trying to get people to get on the bandwagon your time is spent creating numerous models, systems that work, you get the joy of creating, innovating right where you are. The revolution I think, to paraphrase or highjack the point, starts right underneath your feet. Where else can it start? Where the seed is and where the plant grows. I was really also very, very inspired by that insight by a person who’s been at this for many, many years on many fronts. And speaking of making a splash, Stuart and I had the incredible joy of going up north to Cedar Falls to Lake Wyth to check out the annual solar boat races there called Solar Splash. It was a fun show. We talked with students getting sunlight to recharge batteries for a sprint that was coming up later in the day. Let’s give a listen, we’ll talk on the flipside.
Male 1: We are from Kansas State University at Salina. I’m a Mechanical Engineering Technology student. My teammate, Eric, over here, is a Computer Programming major
JM: Nice. So that’s a good combination. How you doing, Eric?
Eric: I’m doing well, thank you.
JM: What are you doing at this moment?
Male 1: We are currently trying to recharge our sprint batteries.
JM: That’s coming up in just a little bit, huh.
Male 1: Uh-huh.
JM: How are they looking?
Male 1: We got about 2 volts to go and complete mobile to get that.
JM: You hear that? We’re counting on you, Mr. Man upstairs. Come out. It’s supposed to be sunny. I guess it takes a little less time when the sun’s full on, is that right?
E: Right. We’re currently charging at 2 amps. If we had full sun we could be charging at 12 amps.
JM: Wow. Well, there’s the difference.
ST: I want to ask you why you got involved in Solar Splash. Do you have a sort of deeper interest in solar energy?
Male 1: Absolutely. Actually, we’re really trying to start an EV company so it’s up been a great experience knowing how to work with an electrical power system to power a vehicle.
ST: Sorry, what does EV stand for?
Male 1: Oh, electric vehicle. We’re looking at making electric ATVs and starting a solar-powered boat line for the simple reason that most people take their boats out on the weekend, so you can leave them to recharge a week. And more importantly, since electric motors are so reliable and maintenance free, you could just let the thing sit over the winter, pull off the covering, go to the lake. No oil change, no fuel swap, just pure simple, starts every time, no hassle.
ST: If you’re going fishing, you’re on your way out. You’re not going to frighten the fish with the big loud noise, I suppose.
Male 3: Exactly, yeah. You know, most those big 40 mile hour bass boats have this little dinky electric motor. That’s precisely why they have it. They don’t want to scare the fish away.
JM: Hey guys, thank you so much for taking a few minutes. Good luck.
Male 1: Thank you very much.
JM: And we’ll see them in just a little bit.
E: All right. Have a good day.
JM: Alright, so much fun. All those students all over the world, all over the country. The enthusiasm, I just wanted to mention that as we do this final segment we’re doing today for the Dream Green Series. Very interesting to see the enthusiasm at the institutions that we went to, when we went to the university there at Cedar Falls, UNI, or U of I an enthusiastic embrace there of so many things sustainable on campus. Of course ISU and the cities that we went to, it really seems like it is a natural part of the younger mindset that it just makes sense to do these kinds of things. Why not tap into the sun? This boat race, what a way to highlight engineering, computer science, so many different types of students that were there all really seriously competing. I have said it many times since being there, to hear the countdown three, two, one, go! Then hear those engines, it was funny but some serious business going on wouldn’t you say, Stuart?
ST: Yeah, I really liked talking to the different teams from different universities, we had a lot of fun that day, it was great to be out seeing a solar boat race. One of the things I liked is the fact this young man said there’s a future in this, it’s fun but there’s a real practical aspect to it. There’s learning new technology, there’s applying engineering skills, they see potential of an electric vehicle, electric boat market so they’re going to start making them. Good luck to them. But that’s where you see really a university sponsoring events on a national and international level which is using this new technology and leading directly into new companies and maybe their company is the one to become the major company that produces solar powered boats.
JM: One of the teams, I can’t remember which school had special solar panels from NASA because they had one of their alumni that was connected there. There was also a team from Minneapolis or near Minneapolis who had a high school student kind of helming the situation, had competed and done very well in Minnesota. First time that I think he’d come on the Solar Splash event. Also looking for, we asked them about applying this learning into a career moving ahead, something very much on his mind. So very interesting to see that, I was very encouraged not only from some of the cutting edge communities that we visited, some companies as well, particularly many of the young folks if I may say that. Speaking of solar power, let’s switch over to the forte for the state of Iowa, wind. We had the great opportunity of visiting with, I know this sounds crazy but his name is Tom Wind from Jamaica and we visited up there a community wind farm that he was involved with, he was also on the board on the Iowa Power Fund and someone deeply connected in the field of wind consulting and so forth, so we call this particular show Wind on Wind, let’s give a listen right now.
Tom Wind: We really ought to have a policy in the state of Iowa to encourage farmers, landowners, investors to invest in the smaller projects. You could see that the larger utilities were finding the economics in the larger projects, they didn’t need any help, they could make the larger economics work. But if a group of farmers wanted to do it they couldn’t quite get it done for various reasons a whole number of reasons. They state agreed with this and we proposed a legislation and so the state adopted a tax credit, tradable state tax credit that was available for small projects, or like one wind turbine at a time. We worked out a deal with several adjoining landowners that we install seven large wind turbines, 2.2 megawatt wind turbines on about five parcels of land and there are seven people involved in this wind farm, one owner per wind turbine. Local people that are owners are in partnership with a corporate partner so that they will both financially benefit from this wind farm. The wind farm went online in May 2007 and has been operating since. So, we’re all going to go out and take a look at them.
ST: And we did. We went to visit the small wind farm and actually they were made by a company called Suzlon which is an Indian company that now has manufacturing all over the world, but it started in India. It was great fun visiting the wind turbines, they weren’t very noisy like some people say they are, they were turning quite beautifully and they looked beautiful when you’re up close to them. But I think one of the things that is really important about Tom Wind’s conversation this whole thing about the tax credits being fundamental to being able to have this small wind farm. This brings us to the point about policy. It’s policy that’s driving these things, why the first utility companies, MidAmerican particularly, began to build large wind turbine farms is because of tax credits, they were essential and because there was the mandate of the Iowa Legislature that mandated a certain amount of energy coming from renewable resources. So, policy is really important and in fact we did dedicate a whole program to that. We spoke to John Collins from the Maharishi University of Management, David Osterburg from the Iowa Policy Project and Richard Pirog as well. Do have a listen to that program because there’s a lot of information in there about policy and really that is a core feature of bringing about change and transformation by sponsoring conversion to renewable energy on the small scale and on the large scale.
JM: Well we found out too, Stuart, that it was Terry Branstad in his first round as governor who actually passed the very first legislation in the country to deal with this, to promote renewable energy. We did learn it took a while to get into fruition phase. But we also had a program with MidAmerican talking about a collaboration they’re doing with Seamans, it’s also a company based in Fort Madison, of course a German company. We also talked with Access Energy, a utility company who just had a project for their headquarters becoming solar powered, interesting work going on.
ST: Access are a cooperative which is a very interesting aspect of their company and we went to their once yearly event and there were people there queuing up to get checks from the company which was their share of the company profits going back to the people who were buying the energy from the company. So, a very interesting setup for that company. But one of the interesting things that comes out of that is how do you make sure that sustainability, energy conservation is available for people at all levels of society and all levels of income? And I think that is an important aspect. We visited the EcoVillage and we saw a number of different things being incorporated in the design of houses. They are pricey to the average person, so it is very important that there are policies put in place that actually benefit people at all levels. I know in Fairfield there’s a group that has been weatherizing homes, about eighty people volunteering, and that’s a very significant contribution. The homes that qualified were the people who are not on the higher income. So, there are grants for weatherization as well, federal money was put that way. So these policies need to work at every level to make sure that everybody can benefit, and of course energy conservation is one of the ways you really can save money, and great thing about Access is they offer energy audits so that their customers could save on their energy bills.
JM: Alliant was doing that as well, as those funds were available. I just want to say one thing, Stuart, that I’ve been hearing from some people that when you look at the solar energy and you look at the wind energy you have this situation where it’s hard to store that energy. Sometimes the wind blows the most at night when you don’t need it, and sometimes the sun doesn’t come out brightly for any length of time and so there’s that call for energy on demand that we’re used to. What I want to do now is listen to a clip by one of the, well I would say, one of the state’s leading renewable energy proponents, Lonnie Gamble who happens to be in Fairfield, but every single place we traveled everyone was familiar with the great work of Professor Gamble.
Lonnie Gamble: People often say who haven’t worked in this much, what do you do when the sun doesn’t shine? Or, what do you do when the wind doesn’t blow? Thinking there’s only one solution, there’s only solar or there’s only wind, but when you put the two of them together it actually provides a very reliable source of power on a seasonal basis, it’s sunnier in the summertime than in the wintertime, it’s windier in the winter than it is in the summer. And then on a short term basis the front comes in and it gets cloudy but then it often gets windy. It just works out that the sun and the wind provide enough power. On a larger scale, if we look around us everywhere we look Iowa’s covered with solar-collectors, they’re called plants. They convert sunlight into stored chemical energy at about 2 or 3% efficiency, which is plenty efficient enough to have taken over the planet. And really those plants provide the base level of order and intelligence that supports the development of order all over the rest of living things on the planet. So, we always have to have a continuing source of energy to come in. Now, for the last hundred years or so, to create the order and structure in our society, the last hundred years or so that’s been fossil fuels, but really the only long term source we have to overcome this dissipated force, this entropy, is solar energy. So, solar energy is really essential to the future of sustainability to create order and structure, to regenerate, to renew. And I think that’s the deeper angle of sustainability.
JM: The deeper angle of sustainability, well I have to say in my association with Lonnie, he certainly embodies that in everything that he does and I was deeply touched by our interviews with him talking so passionately about the incredible joy and place that working on renewable structures and futures, how much it holds in his life and the many, many, many young people that he has worked with and also created in this city here working with the Go Green Plan, and I call him Lonnie Appleseed. But I know, Stuart, you wanted to comment further on this idea of combining wind and solar.
ST: Yes, because of course when we talked to the utility companies one of their points was about renewable energy perhaps not being 24/7 and reliable enough, you know the aspect of the storage problem. For that reason therefore keeping their options open in regard to future coal fired stations or nuclear power stations because they want the guaranteed base load, switch on, switch off availability of energy, which is a very practical point of view. I like Lonnie’s point because it’s pointing out that if you combine wind and solar then really you do get a very constant supply of energy. And if you add in things like geothermal as well on sort of a building level then you really do get an overall energy mix which gives you a lot of energy security. We talked about the need for investment in the infrastructure, in the grid itself because that’s one of the limitations on further renewable energy, particularly on large scale wind farms. Even if you want to build distributed power, as on local power networks and so on, there is this requirement of an investment in infrastructure. And that is something that could happen in the states and particularly the federal level and could therefore open up the possibilities of further renewable energy. But I do think it’s a key point, it’s a central argument that keeps bouncing back for the reliability of your energy source. I feel that from our journey that the argument that you need coal fired stations, that you need nuclear power to provide that base energy can be challenged and really if there were sufficient investment in infrastructure and wind and solar and a combination of renewable energies then the reliability of supply question could be answered.
JM: Of course now natural gas is all the rage being talked about and we see so much advertising on the cable networks and so forth as it being the next answer to everything and certainly it will fit into the equation but it presents other issues. When we’re talking about this journey we looked at renewables, at sustainables and obviously in the overall portfolio there are different aspects that are in the mix, but I will also say this, Stuart, that I do think energy efficiency, we heard it time and time again from everywhere and everyone, that is your quickest and biggest bang for your buck right away combined with these other things. You know if you can take 10% or 15% in terms of improving your energy efficiency and then you add 10 or 15%, 20% from these renewables you’re starting to talk about a significant thing. Which reminds me, I think I would like to play this little snippet from Governor Branstad’s visit to Fairfield in June. Just a couple points he made, I wasn’t dead close up for the mic quality but I think you can hear clearly something that illustrates this point.
Terry Branstad: The new Utility Regulation Building we built is one of the most energy efficient and the best design that has ever been done. Recently Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and I were and we visited Gunderson Medical Clinic up there and they have cut their energy consumption in about half with some of the efficiency they’ve done. I think this is a natural thing we need to do, conservation I think can be an important part of it, I think also renewable energy in Iowa as you know I was actually governor when we set a goal of using more renewable energy and passed the Renewable Energy Standard. We are now number one in ethanol, number one in biodiesel, and number one in wind energy if you look at in per capita basis. Texas is bigger than we are, they produce more wind, but if you look at it per capita-wise we’ve even surpassed Texas. That’s also helped us, we’re even growing jobs too in that field.
JM: Speaking of that, I just wanted to highlight, Stuart, the amazing Hy-vee store has just been built in Fairfield. The IBM building there in , the police station that we visited in Davenport, the new CEEE center for the new Environmental excellence for UNI the first LEED building. We also saw Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, that LEED building. Both of those architect Kevin Nordmyer who is also director of the Iowa Energy Center. So, we did spend a lot of time in some incredible buildings, and man they felt good.
ST: Yeah, they did. The Sustainable Living Center is really an impressive building, it’s not quite finished yet but we walked around it and we were enlightened by Lonnie as to all the different features of the building that make it so special. I recommend listening to the program because there’s a few surprises in there in regards to the incredible level of detail and depth of sustainability that that building has.
JM: We are winding this journey, you don’t hear the mighty chariot we have driving down roads. We’ve barely talked about weather, is this the normal Dream Green Series, it is we’re at the wrap-up phase of this talking about what we found and we hope you’re enjoying this sum-up, we do remind you this entire series is available for anyone. We’ve had requests for information from city administrators, we will make this available to libraries, we have several radio stations that are going to be running it, schools that are going to be able to avail themselves not only of all this incredible information, the interviews we were able to gather going around the state, but also transcripts all 15-17 pages for each show, go to greeniowa.org and the source is yours. Part of what we did as raising funding locally here from our community and then matched by the Office of Energy Independence Iowa Power Fund was to create this resource to do a very forward approach to learning about what’s possible, hopefully to inspire others to take up these great efforts, and the number of sustainability coordinators we’ve spoken with around the state, I think the number’s four or five, Scott Timm here and Cori Burbach in Dubuque, and others. There’s a lot to avail yourself of and it’s happening all around us in Iowa City and elsewhere. But right now we’re going to hear from Monica Stone, she’s been the Policy and Communication Director for the Office of Energy Independence, and we asked her what energy independence means for the state of Iowa.
Monica Stone: Well, when you talk about energy independence, what we really don't mean is building walls around the state and saying we have to supply all of our own energy just for ourselves. We’re not really talking about that kind of independence. The kind of independence we’re talking about is the kind of independence our forefathers really thought about when they created our nation. It was the ability to choose. So the ability of choice in our energy sources and supply and how we use our energy from an efficiency perspective is really the important picture when we talk about energy independence. And so sometimes it makes sense to choose fossil fuels and the traditional sources of energy that we’re used to. In many cases in Iowa, it makes a lot more sense to look at homegrown fuels and homegrown resources that build our economy here today. Now, where we are in terms of energy independence, we talked a little bit about wind and that's a real success story. About 20% of our electric generation in the state comes from wind. That’s very high, and it’s something that we all have contributed to and has been an important part of our economy.
From a biofuels perspective, about 70% of Iowans use some form of biofuels when they fill up their gas tank. That keeps money right here in our own economy. But growing that percentage, as well as growing the national understanding of how biofuels can contribute to our economy, is critical. The thing that we don't often talk about is the thing that probably has the most to contribute, and that’s energy efficiency. And in Iowa we talk a lot about our wind programs, but our energy efficiency programs are nation-leading as well. In Iowa, we invest about $180 million a year through our utility energy efficiency programs and making our economy more efficient in getting more productivity out of every unit of energy that we buy and that we use. That's good because right now, we send close to $6 billion a year on our energy bills into the economies of other states and other countries. And just to give a frame of reference, $6 billion is about the state budget. So, if we could keep more of that money here growing in our own economy, paying our own folks as opposed to paying folks in other states and other nations, we’d be better off. And we’re good at doing that.
JM: Well, we’ve certainly seen that in our travels around the state, I would say it’s been quite a treat working with so many great people, we’ll do our thank-you in a little bit. We are to our wind up phase almost, I know you had a few other comments, Stuart that you wanted to mention with regard to Iowa’s position. I know Monica said in other comments that we could be the Texas here hoping we don’t offend anybody, but Texas of course known as an energy state for a broad range of things including even more wind production than Iowa, though we believe Iowa per capita is the number one state in the country. Some interesting statistics that Monica just shared, your thoughts?
ST: Yeah, it just goes to show where we are and what could be our future. And I think Monica Stone makes the very valid point that what happens in Iowa is relevant for the rest of the country. We’ve see from all the people that we’ve met and all the things that are going on that much of the future in renewable energy and sustainability is happening here in Iowa. We are globally connected, and the people here are globally connected, it really is a very fertile ground what’s happening in this upper cutting edge of sustainability, energy efficiency and promotion of renewable energy.
JM: And I also want to say that in this journey of discovery we will say it started with our peering from the Office of Energy Independence about community grant program that was available for people interested creating public awareness about what was going on around the state. We raised some local money here, we made our pitch, it was accepted and I can just say personally this has been an eye-opening and heart expanding journey and experience to work across the state talking to so many committed people. And to me regardless of the macro environment, politically and economically, I know I’ve seen people that lit and ready to do the job, that are making hay while the sun shines. Every single day we talk about the beautiful LEED buildings, but you know, architects know have committed, Stuart, to creating buildings that are going to be better efficient that is where so much of the energy is used up and they’re on it, they’re not waiting even for government policy. They’ve already committed to it over the next decades and that’s pretty encouraging. I know we’re leading up to our final quote and I think our final quote it’s interesting because it’s from our first interview with Mayor Frank Cownie of Des Moines. Do you want to set that up Stuart?
ST: Yes, Frank was one of our first people on the show. He was very hospitable. We very much enjoyed the visit to Des Moines city. And really Frank gives us at the end of that interview a vision going forward for the future, for the city, for Iowa.
FC: The vision would be that we can certainly have a much smaller impact environmentally on the future, depending on how we use resources, and acknowledging what the availability of those resources are, and which ones are renewable and which ones aren't. That we have a dream and have a plan to use our resources that are in place. Whether it's adaptively reusing houses or buildings and making the best use out of those, and turning those into a 21st Century opportunity that is healthy and consumes very little energy and is well lit and affordable. That we educate everybody on the reality of the finiteness, should I say, of certain resources. We need to recognize what sustainable resources look like, how we use them, and plan for the future so that our kids and our grandkids and our great grandkids have the same opportunities that we do with the resources that are available at that time. And to develop the newer resources that are renewables—the solar, the wind—so that Iowa, moving forward, is a sustainable place to live and to work and to have business. That we have our own energy resources, we have our own food and resources. I think that we have to spend a little time studying whether or not shipping fruits and vegetables in from a thousand-plus miles away, or from another continent, is a good model and a sustainable model. What does the next 100 years look like? What are we going to be when we move on, so to speak? And I think that we have to be much more adaptable and know how to do that and make sure that we’re betting the future on renewables and not on stuff that is dwindling in resource quickly.
ST: Well there you have it, a vision for the future. And that is our final clip and this is our final show of the Dream Green Series. I would just like to personally thank James Moore, and Roland Wells, and KRUU-FM, the team at KRUU, Donna Schill, Mo Ellis, all of which helped us create this series I hope and James hopes that is of great use to many people and is a resource going into the future. One of the things I would just like to share with you is James’ best wordplay pun during the series, which is when we went to the Amana Colonies which were described as a colony of pioutests, and they were producing energy from cow manure and so at the end of the interview with them he basically said, well you are basically a group of cow pioutests. One of the great puns of the series, one that I think back to occasionally and have a chuckle.
JM: I still can’t believe, Stuart thank you, I still can’t believe that it made it to the cutting room floor only, but we just weren’t sure with respect to everybody there if we wanted to do that. But thank you, Stuart. Always a pleasure working with you, one of my greatest delights here at solar-powered KRUU-FM. But a heartfelt thanks to the whole team, all our sponsors, over 70 individuals and companies that stepped up to the plate, and also the Office of Energy Independence, we had a great time talking with them and getting this set up. Also would like to thank Caleb Flynn, Ryan Olsen, David Hurlin, Tanell Pertarious, and Christine Schrum all of whom contributed and each one of you who listened. And we remind you this series stays at the website greeniowa.org for anyone to access for any reason. A lot of great material there if you want to take quotes, if you want to actually even use the audio as well. So just remember this is a living resource and we will explore the possibilities of keeping this going. We already have ideas for at least ten other shows. So if there’s some funding, if we’re able to keep this alive it’s a very critical area particularly now with the larger scrutiny coming from field operations which I think is a natural result with new areas of development. But Stuart, everyone, thank you so much, keep it tuned right here to solar-powered KRUU-FM if you’re listening but also the Dream Green Series thanks you and everyone in Iowa keep up the good work.
ST: Thanks for all our supporters out there, the Office of Energy Independence, the great folk in Fairfield. We’re very grateful. It’s been a tremendous journey, and may there be many others.
JM: And also, of course Maharishi University of Management, Lonnie and the faculty there for their support and help. We’ll just close by saying, keep up the good work Iowa, and keep watching, great things are happening every day.
Voiceover: Produced by Stuart Tanner and James Moore at solar-powered KRUU 100.1 FM in Fairfield Iowa. Online at kruufm.com. The Dream Green series was funded in part by a grant from the Iowa office of energy independence and nearly 70 individuals, companies, and organizations. For a list of sponsors visit our website at greeniowa.org. Archives available for download under creed of commons license. Music by Zila.