Category Archives: Featured

Help Save Energy Efficiency.

Updated:

Right  now, making it’s way through the Iowa State House is a horrible bill  – Senate File (SF) 2311 (formerly SSB 3093). The bill has passed out of committees in both houses and was passed out of the full senate.  The bill is now awaiting debate in the full house. This bill has sweeping changes that decimates energy efficiency programs, potentially losing over 80% of the current funds, it essentially deregulates utilities in Iowa, leaving all utility customers vulnerable to soaring prices and the whims of the utility companies, and it makes it easier for gas pipelines to be built in Iowa.

If enacted, Senate File (SF) 2311 (formerly SSB 3093), which is being championed by Iowa’s investor owned utilities, would:
  • Effectively deregulate Iowa’s energy utilities;
  • Slash energy efficiency programs, potentially by up to 80% or more;
  • Make it easier for gas pipelines to build in Iowa.
  • And though the bad solar provisions were removed, there is still an effort to put them back into the bill which if added back in, could essentially kill rooftop and community solar by allowing utility companies to discriminate against solar customers.
So what does that mean for you? It means:
This bill is bad for Iowans. Energy efficiency is a key factor that keeps utility rates low in Iowa. If passed,  utility rates will go up. Low income people will lose out on energy efficiency and weatherization programs  programs and utility companies can build unnecessary fossils fuel generation plants and charge all of their customers to foot the bill.
We could see a potential loss of over 20,000 jobs in the energy efficiency sectors and and a loss of over $200,000,000 that would have been savings for utility customers.
If you are asking what we can do about it, keep reading!

Talking points for the overall bill:  Click here.

Energy Efficiency Fact Sheet: Click here.

Another bad bill that is now making it’s way through the senate is SSB 3078. This bill proposes to eliminate all energy efficiency programs. It is on the Ways and Means subcommittee schedule for Monday, March 19 at 3:00 p.m. The subcommittee is made up of Senator Fenestra, Senator Hogg, and Senator R.Schmidt. Please contact all three of them and ask them to oppose SSB 3078.  Click here to find their contact info.

2017 Best Development Award Winners

1000 Friends of Iowa proudly announces eleven recipients as its Best Development Award winners of 2017. Five independent jurors from across the state selected projects that implement the efficient use of our resources to develop sustainable communities that provide a high quality of life.

The 2017 Best Development Award winners are listed below (category, winner, project, city, link). For more information about each project, click the link.

  • In the Innovative Leadership category, the City of Clive for the Walnut Creek and Clive Greenbelt initiatives in Clive <link>
  • In the Mixed Use category, Blackbird Investments for the Wilkins Building in Des Moines <link>
  • In the New Residential category, KCL Engineering for the Parkside Residential Development in Charles City <link>
  • In the Placemaking/Greenspace category, the City of Glidden for the Albert Kruger, Sr. Shelter in Glidden <link>
  • In the Renewable Energy category, St. John the Apostle Catholic Church and Red Lion Renewables for the Solar Array in Norwalk <link>
  • In the Renovated Civic category, the City of Sioux City for the Sioux City Promenade in Sioux City <link>
  • In the Renovated Commercial category, SingleSpeed Brewing Co. for the Wonder Bread Building in Waterloo <link>
  • Renovated Residential category, Downtown Leases and Lofts for the Kibbey Building in Marshalltown <link>
  • In the Stormwater Management category, City of Denison for the 14th Street Parking Lot in Denison <link>
  • In the Transportation/Complete Streets category, the City of Muscatine for the Kent Stein Park to Deep Lakes Park Trail in Muscatine <link>
  • In a special Jurors’ Choice category, the City of Dubuque for its long-term, big-vision cross-cutting activities. <link>

The press and public are invited to celebrate these “development heroes” at an Award Ceremony, to be held at the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, at 11:45 a.m.

Letter to DNR about 4″ topsoil rule

Dear Mr. Griffin:

I intend to appear at today’s public hearing regarding the 4-in topsoil rule, but have commitments at work that will prevent me from appearing before 4 pm. In the meantime, please accept the following as my official comment as a private citizen regarding the proposed rule.

I am writing to support the department’s adoption of the top soil preservation provision as a part of the NPDES General Permit #2 as it relates to construction site management.

As you know, a spirited debate is underway in Iowa about various farm practices that are thought to contribute to declines in water quality, soil conservation, and land stewardship in our state. There are good people doing great work in rural Iowa to address these issues, but there is much yet to do. There have been some unfortunate characterizations made about motives and efforts of some ag interests that detracts from the progress accomplished and the journey yet begun.

That said, it is very unfortunate that opposition to the top soil preservation rule focuses on the costs to one industry, without also considering the benefits to all Iowans that such a rule will provide. It is inequitable on the one hand to demand that farmers undertake conservation measures on their lands to benefit themselves, landowners downstream, and the citizens of Iowa, and, on the other, exempt another industry from this responsibility especially when the results of poor land management are identical. In fact, opponents of this rule will be rewarded for undertaking destructive activities that undo conservation projects already in place on ag lands being converted to urban uses.

This conversion is happening at a rapid pace. According to my research of the USDA Census of Agriculture, over the past 25 years more than 1 million acres of farmland formerly in farms in Iowa are apparently no longer being used for farm uses. Some might argue those acres have flowed down the Mississippi River and are now deposited on the floor of the Caribbean. More likely, these lands have been converted to residential, commercial or public use. Nonetheless, this loss means fewer acres available to feed the world over the coming generations. If the soil remains partially intact under new development, perhaps some of these acres can be reclaimed in the future for ag uses.

It seems to me the first duty of any landowner in Iowa is to preserve our soil. Iowans have been blessed with soils of unbelievable fertility. Our soils are the envy of the world and comprise a limited resource for humanity that must not be squandered, wasted, degraded or discarded. And yet, a proposal to require replacement of just a fraction of the topsoil on a typical Iowa construction site — with all of the benefits such as rule obtains for water retention, fertility for garden and ornamental plants, water quality of runoff — is seen as too heavy handed, too expensive, and too much of a threat to personal liberty as to outweigh the natural and global benefit — and I daresay the moral imperative – of replacing a hand width depth of disturbed soil. This is desecration of the worst sort and will be rightly condemned by future generations.

Your department has proposed a reasonable, if somewhat timid, requirement that is in the best interests of Iowans. I urge your department to adopt the rule as written and explore additional regulatory remedies to ensure that Iowa’s soil is not treated like dirt to be scraped off and sold by the ton.

Sincerely,

John Morrissey

2014 Best Development Awards Recipients

1000 Friends of Iowa is pleased to present the recipients of the 2014 Best Development Awards! Take a moment to learn more about each recipient and join us in congratulating them!

  • New Residential: Madison Flats, Des Moines
  • Renovated Residential: (Co-Winners) 1924 Leyner Street, Des Moines & 4818 Urbandale Avenue, Des Moines
  • New Commercial/Civic: Viking Center, Stanton
  • Renovated Commercial/Civic: Green Pilot Streetscape Project, West Union
  • Mixed Use: 421 Main Street, Slater
  • Leadership: Woodbine Main Street District, Woodbine
  • Stormwater Management: Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project’s Green Alley Program, Dubuque