Recent editorials published in Iowa newspapers

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 21, 2014 at 9:01 am •  Published: July 21, 2014
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While Iowa already is a national leader in the production of wind energy, this ruling gives momentum to a push for solar power. Now, any non-taxable entity — churches, schools and municipalities, for example — can use solar panels that will allow them to purchase renewable energy. It's good for the environment and makes economic sense. Iowa ranks 16th in the nation for solar power potential, according to the National Renewable Energy Lab.

In states where solar is growing fastest, as much as 70 percent of all projects have been done through third-party arrangements. Such is the case with Eagle Point Solar. A local bank served as the third party in the deal between Eagle Point and the city of Dubuque. Alliant Energy argued the arrangement violated Iowa law, infringing on its territory as a public utility. The Iowa Utilities Board in April 2012 ruled in favor of Alliant. A Polk County District Court reversed that, and then it was Alliant's turn to appeal. Here we are today with an Iowa Supreme Court ruling that is likely to expand renewable energy resources in Iowa.

Had the ruling favored Alliant, it would have had a devastating impact on the future of renewable energy — a key area in which the state is trying to grow and become a leader.

Iowa hasn't led the way so far: Already, 21 states have legalized third-party power-purchase agreements to encourage the development of renewable energy. Iowa does not have statutory language that specifically allows for agreements that provide for third-party supply of on-site renewable energy generation. Without such a rule change, schools, universities, municipalities, churches and any other tax-exempt organization would effectively be shut out from enjoying the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy.

Credit to Eagle Point Solar's Barry Shear for sticking with this battle to contest the state's long-standing policies that favor behemoth public utilities. Following the lead of the Supreme Court, the Iowa Legislature should look at regulations and remove obstacles that stymie renewable energy growth and instead promote legislative policies that stimulate growth.

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Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. July 14, 2014.

Sadness remains as two-year mark passes in cousins' case

As most citizens of the Cedar Valley are well aware, July 13 marked two years since the disappearance of cousins Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook-Morrissey of Evansdale.

The passage of time provides some semblance of healing, but the sadness, particularly around anniversaries, is still tough on this community.

For the families and others who were close to the girls, there will probably never be complete closure.

"A lot of what we are trying to do is put our lives back together, me and Heather and the kids," said Drew Collins, father of Elizabeth.

"All of that becomes harder and harder as time goes. Holding your marriage together, holding your family together. It's hard on marriage; it's hard on day-to-day life. All around, a tough situation."

In the time since their daughter's abduction and murder, the Collins parents have lobbied to speed up public notification in child abduction cases and campaigned to raise money for missing children groups. The couple is still part of Team Hope, which counsels parents whose children have disappeared.

"I hope the scenario isn't that they do it again and get caught," Collins said. "That's my biggest fear; that they'll do it to someone else."

We wish the families and friends of the girls all the support they need in their continuing struggle to cope with such devastating losses.

Meanwhile, we hope for the day when there can be some closure to the legal case. There is still plenty of work going on in that area.

"The case is not cold. We are continuing to develop more leads," said Chief Kent Smock of the Evansdale Police Department.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation has an agent assigned to the case full time. Tips are generated continuously.

The authorities have tapped into the FBI's behavioral analysis unit to produce profiles showing the type of people likely to be behind the crimes.

We appreciate the diligence of all the law enforcement personnel who are involved with this case. Outside of family members and close friends, no one wants to see the capture of this person, or people more than them.

Local law enforcement did a tremendous job of keeping the public informed during the search period and the days when the fate of the girls was unknown. Now, the priority lies with the continuing investigation.

We wish them a fruitful ending to all of the hard work they are putting into this case.

For now, all we can do is hope and await the day when the person or persons responsible for these acts meet justice.

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