Bill promotes renewable energy, efficiency at public schools

    The Iowa Energy Center would be required to come up with a plan to aid public schools with energy efficiency projects through grants under a bill introduced in the Iowa House of Representatives Tuesday.

    House File 2331 would require the center to add recommendations for projects and grants for elementary and secondary public schools to its annual report. The bill encourages energy efficiency and renewable-energy production projects at the schools.

    The center already has worked with universities. No lobbyist declarations were recorded by mid-morning Tuesday, shortly after the bill was introduced by Reps. Charles Isenhart of Dubuque, Cindy Winckler of Davenport and Ras Smith of Waterloo, all Democrats.

    The bill would require the energy center to convene a panel of stakeholders that would forward recommendations to the energy center board.

    Energy Center board Chairman Tim Whipple said the bill took him by surprise, because no one had discussed it with him. He said the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s energy office already is working with schools on baseline energy measurements.

    “I think the board would be reluctant to intrude into decisions typically made by school boards and administrators,” Whipple said. “At the moment, the mission of the Energy Center is to focus on implementing the governor’s energy plan. But if the Legislature wants us to get involved in school district budgeting decisions, we would take a look at that.”

    The bill was referred to the House Education Committee.

    Perry Beeman
    Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.