Iowa's Renewable Energy and Infrastructure Impacts, TR-593, 2010

(2010) Iowa's Renewable Energy and Infrastructure Impacts, TR-593, 2010. Transportation, Department of

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Abstract

The federal government is aggressively promoting biofuels as an answer to global climate change and dependence on imported sources of energy. Iowa has quickly become a leader in the bioeconomy and wind energy production, but meeting the United States Department of Energy’s goal having 20% of U.S. transportation fuels come from biologically based sources by 2030 will require a dramatic increase in ethanol and biodiesel production and distribution. At the same time, much of Iowa’s rural transportation infrastructure is near or beyond its original design life. As Iowa’s rural roadway structures, pavements, and unpaved roadways become structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, public sector maintenance and rehabilitation costs rapidly increase. More importantly, costs to move all farm products will rapidly increase if infrastructure components are allowed to fail; longer hauls, slower turnaround times, and smaller loads result. When these results occur on a large scale, Iowa will start to lose its economic competitive edge in the rapidly developing bioeconomy. The primary objective of this study was to document the current physical and fiscal impacts of Iowa’s existing biofuels and wind power industries. A four-county cluster in north-central Iowa and a two-county cluster in southeast Iowa were identified through a local agency survey as having a large number of diverse facilities and were selected for the traffic and physical impact analysis. The research team investigated the large truck traffic patterns on Iowa’s secondary and local roads from 2002 to 2008 and associated those with the pavement condition and county maintenance expenditures. The impacts were quantified to the extent possible and visualized using geographic information system (GIS) tools. In addition, a traffic and fiscal assessment tool was developed to understand the impact of the development of the biofuels on Iowa’s secondary road system. Recommended changes in public policies relating to the local government and to the administration of those policies included standardizing the reporting and format of all county expenditures, conducting regular pavement evaluations on a county’s system, cooperating and communicating with cities (adjacent to a plant site), considering utilization of tax increment financing (TIF) districts as a short-term tool to produce revenues, and considering alternative ways to tax the industry.

Item Type: Departmental Report
Keywords: Biodiesel fuels, Biomass fuels, Ethanol, Geographic information systems, Impacts, Public policy, Renewable energy sources, Revenues, Rural highways, Secondary roads, Taxation, Truck traffic, Unpaved roads, Visualization, Wind power generation
Subjects: Transportation
Transportation > Roads and highways
Transportation > Design and Construction
Transportation > Economics, finance, and taxes
Transportation > Energy and fuel
ID Code: 20073
Deposited By: Iowa DOT Library
Deposited On: 07 Jul 2015 12:24
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2018 19:53
URI: http://publications.iowa.gov/id/eprint/20073