Science & Technology
Connect Iowa Releases New Broadband Access Figures PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Jessica Ditto   
Friday, 08 June 2012 11:23

Research shows that broadband access gap in Iowa shrinking; 93% of residents now have access to fixed broadband speeds of 3 Mbps download

Explore the numbers

Des Moines – New research unveiled today by Connect Iowa shows that the broadband availability gap in the state is shrinking, with 93.5% of Iowa residents now having access to fixed broadband of 3 Mbps download or higher, compared to 92.5% last year.

Nonprofit Connect Iowa has been working since 2009 to ensure that Iowans have access to the economic, educational, and quality of life benefits derived from increased broadband access, adoption, and use.

Among the findings of the new broadband availability research are:

  • 82.2% of Iowa households can access broadband at advertised speeds of 6 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload, meaning that nearly 218,000 households are in areas that may be eligible for Universal Service Fund broadband deployment subsidies
  • 80.5% of Iowa households can access broadband at speeds of at least 10 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload (excludes mobile and satellite services)
  • 96.1% of rural households in Iowa have access to broadband of at Least 768 Kbps download/200 Kbps upload (excludes mobile and satellite services)
  • 3.3% of Iowa households have access to broadband speeds of at least 100 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload. In October 2011, only 3.2% of households in Iowa had access to these broadband speeds (excludes mobile and satellite services)
  • Broadband of at least 768 Kbps download/200 Kbps upload is available to 97.7% of Iowa households, up from 97.6% last October, leaving 28,000 Iowa households unable to connect to basic high-speed Internet (excludes mobile and satellite services)
  • 87.2% of Iowa households have the ability to choose broadband service from two or more non-mobile broadband providers (excludes mobile and satellite services)

Note: The data in this report are subject to data validation.

“We are thrilled to see the investment being made by providers and that the work we are doing with our state partners is paying off,” said Connect Iowa State Program Manager Amy Kuhlers. “These latest access numbers show we are starting to bridge the broadband access gap and motivates us even more to focus on bringing broadband to the remaining 28,000 Iowans who remain unserved.”

Last month, Connect Iowa released an innovative new broadband mapping tool called My ConnectView TM offering unmatched views of Iowa’s technology landscape. Residents and businesses are encouraged to use the interactive map to find area providers and help validate the data. Residents are also encouraged to join their local  Connected technology team to help tailor the broadband expansion plan for their community.

Connect Iowa’s research was conducted as part of the State Broadband Initiative (SBI) grant program, funded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The data was gathered in accordance with the requirements of the Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) and subsequent clarifications set forth by NTIA. The process begins by contacting all known providers in the state and providing information about the broadband mapping project. Information on broadband service areas is collected from each willing provider through voluntary participation. A nondisclosure agreement (NDA) is offered to all providers prior to the submission of data; the data protected through the NDA is limited to highly sensitive network infrastructure information, including middle-mile locations. Connected Nation strives to maintain a flexible mapping process in order to be able to collect data from providers in a variety of formats based on providers’ technical capabilities and resources.

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About Connect Iowa: Connect Iowa is a subsidiary of Connected Nation and operates as a nonprofit in the state of Iowa to promote broadband access, adoption, and use. The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) is leading the initiative to increase broadband Internet access throughout rural Iowa. Connect Iowa was commissioned by the state to work with all broadband providers in Iowa to create detailed maps of broadband coverage and develop a statewide plan for the deployment and adoption of broadband. For more information visit:

Why Wait Till Gas Hits $10 a Gallon? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 04 June 2012 14:48
Sustainable Energy Expert Details National Plan of Action

There’s a lot of moaning and hand-wringing whenever gasoline prices approach $4 a gallon. But all it would take for them to hit $10 a gallon overnight would be hurricanes wiping out a couple of refineries or saboteurs disabling a couple of pipelines, says Dr. R. Paul Williamson, founder and CEO of the non-profit Sustainable Systems of Colorado.

“The United States is still almost completely reliant on finite fossil fuels, which are rapidly being depleted,” says Williamson, author of Winning the Energy Wars: A Sustainable Energy Plan for America’s Future ( “We should be following a plan now that transitions us to sustainable energy sources but, believe or not, there is no plan.”

The country faces oil shortages, international security turmoil and expanding environmental impacts, he says.

“Our entire future hinges on a sustainable energy plan,” he says. “A crisis will impact our whole quality of life. It’s not just gasoline; petroleum products are used in pharmaceuticals, plastics, things we rely on every day. The time to put together a plan is now – not when we’re in crisis.”

After studying the details of the nation’s looming energy crisis, the former executive director of Hydrogen and Alternative Research and Development for the University of Montana says he’s drafted a detailed plan that is systematic, non-threatening and sustainable. Three key features are:

• Abolish the U.S. Department of Energy. Though the 1973 oil crisis led to its creation, the Department of Energy has done nothing to create a sustainable energy plan in its 35 years of existence. Such a strategic plan isn’t even a goal. Why? Politics. The big, all-powerful oil companies would not benefit. “To ensure America’s security and prosperity’’ is the department’s stated mission.

• Create a Governors National Sustainable Energy Council. Direct the work of implementing the energy plan to leaders who are already doing that. Thirty of our 50 states have adopted goals for sustainable energy, and some have already achieved them. The council would have a rotating two-year board consisting of two governors from each of five regions, and three at-large governors. Funding from the decommissioned Department of Energy (currently, $25 to $35 billion a year) would be diverted to the council, which would be located in America's Heartland away from Washington, DC.

• Enact legislation to establish funding. Williamson proposes a National Alternative Energy Bond Fund to provide low-interest loans to new and redirected companies; entrepreneurs and other businesses focused on domestic energy development. This could be funded through sales of Alternative Energy Series “AE” bonds, trading stocks or bonds in the market as part of the Invest in America program, and establishing a surcharge of the use of products that use finite energy resources.

“We have enough domestic finite, transitional and sustainable resources to become energy independent and we can do so if we get focused, establish a new leadership paradigm and implement what I call the ‘USA Sustainable Energy Plan,’ ” Williamson says.

What can Americans do – besides their individual efforts to reduce reliance on gas and oil? Williamson suggests taking these steps:

• Call or email our elected officials. Contact your governor, your U.S. representative, your U.S. senators and the president.

• Tell them you support adopting the USA Sustainable Energy Plan. Ask for their support on the three action steps: decommissioning the Department of Energy, creating the governors’ council, and creating and funding the alternative energy fund.

• Follow up each week. Reiterate the action items and ask what progress is being made.

For more information on the energy plan, visit

About R. Paul Williamson

R. Paul Williamson is founder and CEO of the non-profit Sustainable Systems of Colorado. He holds bachelor’s degrees in secondary education and communications; master’s in curriculum and instruction and media technology, and a doctorate in technology education. He has served as a dean at four colleges including the University of Montana, where he created the Montana Hydrogen Futures Project, a plan incorporating the state's human, natural and renewable resources to create a statewide, hydrogen-based economy. Presently, he is working to create a sustainable future for the US; deployment of a self-sustaining, hydrogen-powered, magnetic levitation personal rapid transit monorail system; a sustainable smart home development; and an H2 Futures Business Park.

President's wind energy visit to Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 13:51

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa authored and won enactment of the first-ever wind energy production tax credit in 1992.  The incentive was designed to give wind energy the ability to compete against coal-fired and nuclear energy and helped to launch the wind energy industry.  He has worked to extend the credit ever since.  He made the following comment on President Obama’s visit to Iowa on wind energy this week.


“I’m glad the President likes Iowa but his visit won’t have much to do with getting the wind energy tax credit extended.  He could travel down the street from the White House to the Capitol and talk to the congressional leadership instead, especially in the Senate, controlled by his party.  It was surprising to read in the paper this week that he hasn’t talked to key committee chairmen in his own party in months.  Maybe the lack of communication is why the President and the Senate Democrats let the biodiesel tax credit expire at the end of 2011 and made that industry suffer from uncertain tax policy.


“There’s strong bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate for extending the wind energy tax credit.   I introduced a bill with bipartisan co-sponsors in March, for example.  The provision is hung up in the lack of a way forward on dozens of expiring tax provisions.  The President could exert his leadership by working with Congress on a way forward instead of calling for a provision that’s a no-brainer for many of us.  He’s focusing on the easy part of a bigger task.  The stakes for the wind industry and the country in general will only get worse with delay.    It’s time to act, not politick.”


Information on Grassley’s bipartisan bill to extend the wind energy tax credit is available here.

USDA Praises Industry, Midwest Stakeholders, as they Sign an Agreement To Develop Commercial Biofuels PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Sarah Bittleman   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 13:01 logo

Great things continue to happen as America moves forward in developing an “all of the above” strategy to become more energy independent.  For example, an agreement was signed between aviation industry leaders and Midwest stakeholders to develop and commercialize sustainable biofuels.  USDA will act as an advisor to this effort.

The Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative (MASBI)  supports President Obama’s goal of achieving greater energy independence. Increasing our reliance on sustainable, home-grown sources of energy is good for the nation, good for business, good for rural economies and good for the environment. And agreements like this increase the effectiveness of those efforts, as will, as the President has called for: maintaining the favorable tax treatments such as section 48C of the Internal Revenue Code which provides an investment tax credit of up to 30 percent of qualified investment in a qualifying advanced energy project;  the Producer Tax Credit (PTC) and the Accelerated Depreciation Allowance for cellulosic biofuel producers; and the biodiesel tax credit, all of  which  reduce investment risk. We know these work because accelerated depreciation has been offered for decades to the oil and gas industry to encourage investment and innovation.

The agreement calls for the parties to hold workshops with stakeholders to identify appropriate feedstocks, supply chain logistics and a set of sustainability principles.  It was signed by United Air Lines Inc., the Boeing Co., Honeywell UOP, the City of Chicago’s Department of Aviation and the Clean Energy Trust. MASBI’s Advisory Council will be comprised of national leaders in advanced biofuels including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of the Navy, other Federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions.

One of the group’s principal tasks is to identify the challenges of creating viable markets in the Midwest for aviation biofuels. Specifically, it will determine:

  • The transportation and infrastructure needs to deliver biofuels
  • The growth potential for commercial aviation biofuels
  • The best fuel source(s)
  • Policies that are needed to stimulate private-market development of biofuels

The agreement calls for the parties to hold 4-6 workshops by April 2013.  The workshops will include feedstock growers, processors, fuel users, financiers, policy makers and non-government organizations.  A report will be produced at the conclusion of the workshops.

USDA’s support of the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative builds upon USDA’s ongoing work to further the development of biofuels. USDA already has several memorandums of understanding (MOU) on the subject and several programs to fund biofuels research and development. In January 2010, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus signed an MOU to develop advanced biofuels and other renewable energy systems for commercial and military transportation needs. Also in 2010, Under Secretary Dallas  Tonsager signed an MOU with Airlines for America on the Farm to Fly project which has studied the feedstock and infrastructure needs for the development of aviation biofuels in the U.S.  In addition, Secretaries Vilsack, Mabus and Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu signed an agreement in January 2011 to work with private industry to develop drop-in biofuels for military and commercial uses.  Most recently, in January 2012, USDA, Boeing, and the Air Transport Association of America, Inc. (now Airlines for America), issued a report summarizing their agreement to work together to accelerate the availability of commercially viable and sustainable aviation biofuels.

For additional information on USDA’s renewable energy programs and activities, check out the USDA Energy page or the Rural Development Energy Programs page on our website.

For more information about today’s announcement click here.

Odyssey of the Mind Brings Thousands to Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Odyssey of the Mind   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 12:22
Odyssey of the Mind, the largest creative problem-solving competition in the world, will be starting off this year's World Finals tonight with its Opening Ceremonies. It's the beginning of a three-day whirlwind of creativity, competition, and fun. The ceremony is the official opening of the 33rd annual World Finals. Students will meet and support each other, as well as represent their state or country in a march around Hilton Coliseum at Iowa State University, which will also be packed with Odyssey supporters and volunteers.
When? Wednesday, May 23, 2012. Ceremony starts at 7:30 p.m.
Where? Hilton Coliseum, Iowa State University, Ames
Who? Over 10,000 excited students from around the world!
Contact: Joan Coates (515) 294-476 Room 4, Scheman Building

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