Yellow gold gets green light

Kyle Ferguson

The feverish search to find America’s next source of energy has come to Iowa State as President Gregory Geoffroy has been appointed as a member of the $100 million Iowa Power Fund.

Over the next four years, the Iowa Power Fund will be used to help expand Iowa’s already significant energy economy through research and development.

“We want to take action that will help the biofuel and independent energy initiative in Iowa continue to grow,” Geoffroy said.

“Iowa is currently the leading state in producing ethanol. We produce twice as much as any other state, and around 25 percent of all ethanol in the nation,” said Robert Brown, director of the ISU Office of Biorenewables and professor in mechanical engineering.

“One of the goals of the industry is to look for biofuels beyond simple grain biofuel, and ethanol with a cellulose base looks promising,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, cellulose is not a commercial crop, whereas grain is, so it’ll take some time for research and interest in that area to pick up to the point where it is feasible to profitably produce that kind of ethanol.”

Gov. Chet Culver signed the fund into law last May. The board consists of 18 members, and will distribute the money for energy research as well as examine and develop new energy policies for the state.

The board is also in charge of developing an Iowa energy independence plan with Roya Stanley, Iowa’s energy independence director.

The plan, scheduled to be submitted to the governor by Dec. 14, is supposed to help Iowa become independent of foreign energy sources by 2025.

“The fund is expected to get a lot of new procedures and proposals completed by the end of this year,” Brown said.

Geoffroy is one of the seven ex-officio, nonvoting members of the board, and he represents the Board of Regents.

“The goal of the fund is to establish procedures for funding projects and, ultimately, encourage discourse about the future of renewable energy. They will help the director review new technologies and procedures, and together make the choices that will best benefit us in the long-term,” Brown said.

“I cannot vote in motions the board has, I can only contribute in the discussion. But the regents nominated me to Governor Culver to be on this board, and I’m proud to represent them,” Geoffroy said.

The first meeting of the Power Fund board will take place in October.