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Vote Keeps Students On The Cutting Edge

September 23, 2014
Emmetsburg News

To the Editor:

A big thank you is in order on behalf of the Friends of Iowa Lakes Community College who urged Voters to approve the renewal of a technology replacement levy. A huge percentage (85 percent) approved the levy, which keeps Iowa Lakes tech savvy students on the cutting edge as high-tech, high-pay job seekers.

Two weeks before the election, Iowa Lakes unveiled new training facilities for its renewable energy careers like Wind, Solar, Water Quality, and Geothermal heating/cooling. One week later Iowa's first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant opened in Emmetsburg.

So why are these events such a big deal?

The United States relies on foreign oil for much of our energy needs, but with rising energy concerns around the globe, our community, our state, and our nation need to look at alternative forms of energy and how to reduce this dependence. As a resident of northwest Iowa, I firmly believe that we possess powerful natural resources in our backyard that we need to take advantage of. The proof is in the statistics. In 2012, Iowa produced 24.5 percent of our energy from wind and in 2013 we climbed to 27.4 percent, putting us at number one in the nation. This amount of wind is equivalent to powering 1.5 million average Iowan homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Iowa Lakes Community College recognized Iowa's wind capabilities, which is why they opened a Sustainable Energy Resources and Technologies (S.E.R.T.) building in Estherville. The S.E.R.T. facility will significantly influence students' classroom experience and prepare them for renewable energy careers including those offered by Windtest, a German wind energy company that has a new location in Estherville.

Another sign that Iowa and America are ready for more renewable energy is the first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant I mentioned that opened recently in Emmetsburg. The plant expects to process 770 tons of corn waste every day, with annual output at 20 million gallons.

The proposed Rock Island Clean Line could add a huge boost to Iowa's wind infrastructure allowing Iowa to produce wind at an even lower cost. The project could also add around 500 permanent jobs and 5,000 construction jobs. Iowa has been a leader in renewable energy and it is important that we continue to lead from the front. I look forward to Iowa adding infrastructure, to not only help power Iowa, but also the Midwest, the nation, and the world.

I am grateful to have been associated with Iowa Lakes Community College as a teacher and an administrator; proud that the voters value technology in higher education leading the initiatives that will boost alternative energy production and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

(signed) David E. Nixon

Emmetsburg, IA



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