The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Green energy pays off with Apple’s data-center investment

Apple CEO Tim Cook gets ready to introduce the Foo Fighters band during the product unveiling of the iPhone 5 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California on Wednesday, September 12, 2012. (Gary Reyes/San Jose Mercury News/MCT)

Apple announced Aug. 24 that the company has decided to invest $1.375 billion in constructing a new data center in Waukee, Iowa, that would run entirely on renewable energy.

Through years of placing sustainability at the forefront of economic development, Iowa has built a strong reputation in the renewable-energy field, said Tina Hoffman, the marketing and communications director for the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

“I think Iowans have a history of making our living from the land, whether that’s years back with our agricultural heritage [or] even today how we utilize the raw materials available to us to really build our economy …” Hoffman said. “I think we have a history of being good stewards to what we have available to us.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds told The Daily Iowan the focus on renewable energy attracted Apple to the state. The renewable-energy-powered data center in Iowa, which is slated to open in 2020, is part of Apple’s pledge to power its global operations with 100 percent renewable energy, according to Apple’s announcement.

“In Iowa, almost 37 percent of our electricity is generated by wind, and the two data centers that they are going to build in Waukee will both be 100 percent renewable, and so it was a big component of our ability to secure them and to secure that investment,” she said.

RELATED: Kim Reynolds visits UI, talks renewable energy

Iowa has been a major player in the renewable energy market for decades, further expanding the state’s energy portfolio through actions such as implementing rural wind turbines and putting a solar tax credit in place.

“We’ve been a leader since 1982, so this was started a long time ago when then-Gov. [Terry] Branstad really put in place a portfolio,” Reynolds said. “We were the first state in the nation that really encouraged with policies and with some incentives to … make our energy portfolio diversified and to really have renewables be a big [part] of that.”

Iowa’s devotion to a more renewable world does not stop at the state lines. Dave Cwiertny, the director of the University of Iowa Public Policy Center’s Environmental Policy Research Program, has worked for the past year in Washington, D.C., as a staff member for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. He describes the time as one full of pushing for bipartisan sustainable-energy practices.

“There are ways in which you can show moving to a green-energy economy has great potential for growing jobs and increasing reliability, especially here domestically in our energy production,” he said. “… There are ways to do it. I just think it’s going to take a fairly big shift; there are some pressures in … terms of the role of fossil fuels that need a little extra ‘oomph’ to get over, but there are ways to make that work.”

RELATED: Iowa politicians voice thoughts on clean energy

Looking forward, more companies such as Apple may look to put down roots in Iowa’s sustainable soil, Hoffman said.

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