Photo by Amy Mayer

In a packed-to-capacity community room in Boone, the three-member Iowa Utility Board heard testimony today over the proposed Bakken oil pipeline, which would carry crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields, across Iowa, to Illinois.

Before testimony got underway, opponents of the pipeline staged a protest outside the community building on the Boone County Fairgrounds.

Wikimedia Commons

Energy company Dakota Access wants to build a pipeline across Iowa to transport crude oil from North Dakota.   The company has initiated eminent domain proceedings against Iowa State University.  

But university officials say they’re willing to negotiate voluntary easements for the ISU property the pipeline would cross. 

Vice-President Warren Madden says the university will resist condemnation, but if the Iowa Utilities Board approves the project, then ISU is ready to negotiate terms.    

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad says he will not intervene in the controversial Bakken Pipeline project which is under consideration by the Iowa Utilities Board.  

And he is downplaying landowners concerns.    

Dakota Access wants to crisscross the state with a pipeline to transport crude oil from North Dakota.   

Some landowners have not granted permission.    But Branstad argues the company won’t be taking their land.

Pat Blank/IPR

Once the weather turns cold, the first utility bill following the temperature dip usually prompts homeowners to look for ways to rein in costs. Most Iowa utility companies and rural electric cooperatives offer ways to save energy free of charge.  Some offer to bring in a home energy specialist like Jason Jefferson.

Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa ranks first in the U.S. for having the highest percentage of wind energy used on its electrical grid, but a new industry report by the American Wind Energy Association and the Wind Energy Foundation says there is room to grow. Based on data from the U.S. Department of Energy, the report finds that 28 percent of Iowa electricity in 2014 was generated by wind, and that number could grow to 40 percent by 2020. 

Spring Dew/flickr

Utility employees from out-of-state who come in and save the day when there’s a major power outage would get some help at tax-filing time, under a bill state lawmakers have approved and sent to the governor. 

If Gov. Branstad signs the bill, employees who, for example, come to Iowa from Wisconsin would no longer have Iowa taxes withheld no matter how much money they earn here. 

Victoria Danielson at the Iowa Department of Revenue says the change will streamline tax-filing for the workers.

Joyce Russell/IPR

The Iowa Utilities Board has issued a schedule of deadlines for the controversial Bakken crude oil pipeline which would criss-cross the state from northwest to southeast.   

The schedule indicates the board will rule on the Dakota Access application by December or January.      

Dakota Access is a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer.The pipeline would transport up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.  


Feb 26, 2015

A new report by Iowa’s largest utility companies shows hundreds of households are behind on paying their energy bills.  A federal program called LIHEAP provides protection from having the power shut off between November 1st and March 31st. Iowa’s Director Jerry McKim says he’s concerned about those who are not part of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, but there is protection.

“The law says if you haven’t had a payment agreement that you broke in the last 12 months, the utility must, not might, offer you a minimum of 12 months to pay off your past due balance.”

Brooke Raymond

Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says the Senate will soon vote on the long-delayed tax extenders bill. The legislation groups more than 50 tax breaks, including wind energy incentives.

Because Iowa is a leader in wind energy production, Grassley has been vocal on the need to extend the tax credits. But Grassley says the bill doesn’t go far enough.

Miroslav Petrasko

An inky black sky full of stars is one of the most breathtaking views on Earth, but for most Americans the stars have dimmed because of artificial light.

Clay Masters / IPR

 Business is booming in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale oilfields. With that boom comes a need for infrastructure. More than half of the oil out of the Bakken leaves by train or truck.  But companies are working on pipelines.  One proposed pipeline would cut clear through the state of Iowa. 


NASA just released news that back in 2012, the Earth came very close to being hit by a solar flare – an event that could have wiped out electrical power for tens of millions of people.

Daniel Arnold / Wikimedia Commons

Will Bates doesn’t understand how people dislike the noise of wind turbines. It’s music to his ears—literally.

The True Cost of Energy

Jul 28, 2014
Kwerdenker / Wikimedia Commons

"Cheap energy isn't cheap."

Adam Burke

For decades, U.S. climate change policy has amounted to, "Do as I say, not as I do." However, this week President Obama announced its boldest step yet to reduce carbon emissions. The President wants to reduce carbon emission from power plants by 30% by the year 2030.

Today on River to River, what these guidelines mean for Iowa.

Iowa’s only nuclear power plant, the Duane Arnold Energy Center,  is observing its fortieth year in operation with the release of a report showing its economic impact in  the state.   Governor Branstad joined company officials for a celebration at the plant outside Palo.  

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

It could be Iowa’s next energy crop: a relative of sugar cane, that looks like bamboo. It’s about to become much more abundant in a state dominated by corn and soybeans. 

Host Ben Kieffer examines several cases before the Iowa Supreme Court this term dealing with a wide breadth of issues including HIV criminalize, solar energy, defamation in campaign ads, and the

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

Low propane supplies in the Midwest have driven up the cost of the fuel used by many rural families to heat their homes and businesses—to the point where Senator Chuck Grassley has requested an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.

Iowa Public Radio’s Durrie Bouscaren traveled to an area in Central Iowa that depends on propane, and came back with this story. 

Thomas Favre-Bulle

In the first half of this program, host Ben Kieffer talks with two members of the new Iowa Department of Education commission charged with strengthening the core curriculum.  Guests are D.T. Magee, the Executive Director of the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, and Tom Downs, Executive Director of the Iowa Association of School Boards.

In the second half, hear about new attention given to sexual assault, doubling of propane prices, and what is behind the latest cold weather.

Bringing in the Harvest

Oct 28, 2013
IPR's Pat Blank

Pam Johnson has just wrapped up a term as president of the National Corn Growers Association. She and her husband and two sons farm in Floyd County in North Iowa. Johnson testified in July before a U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy about the need to continue the Renewable Fuels Standard for ethanol.

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

One of the companies banking on Iowa’s wind energy industry is Clean Line Energy Partners, a Houston-based operation with plans to build five large-scale high voltage transmission lines in the country. As Iowa Public Radio’s Durrie Bouscaren reports, one of those lines would traverse Iowa, and it starts in the northwest corner of the state. 

Jimmy Emerson / jimmywayne / Flickr

Host Ben Kieffer gets the latest on news from around Iowa.  MidAmerican Energy gives an update on the power outage which left almost 40,000 Des Moines-area residents in the dark. IPR's Joyce Russell discusses changes to the problematic Toledo Juvenile Home.  The DNR has a new report which looks at drought conditions in Iowa.  Also, Dubuque native Brooks Wheelan joins the cast of "Saturday Night Live."

Dean Borg / IPR

 Iowa’s ultra-high ethonal, E-85, fuel pumps are increasingly popular. Iowa Public Radio’s Dean Borg reports.

Iowa State Fair


The Iowa State Fair wraps up next weekend. IPR's Clay Masters talks with Sarah McCammon, who's on assignment with Marketplace, over the economics and controversy over when schools should start and how that affects state fairs and tourism. Masters also talks with McCammon about the energy stories she's done on Transocean, the company that owned the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that was involved in the BP oil spill three years ago, and a solar company that’s also ahead of its peers.

Advocates  for solar power are watching an Iowa court case that pits a small Dubuque company  against the state’s giant electric utilities.    Both sides say the case could  eliminate  some of the barriers to solar power in the state.  

Sarah McCammon / IPR

  This week Clay and Sarah discuss the state's unemployment rate which is largely unchanged for June. They also discuss an issue Sarah is reporting on regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline and its impact on the country if its built or not. 

IPR would like to know what business issues are important to you, join our IPR Insight Network and lend your expertise and experience to our reporting.  

U.S. senators of both parties are directing outrage at top IRS officials over not being informed earlier about the tax agency’s work to target conservatives, and they’re demanding answers. Today on River to River, it’s politics day. Host Ben Kieffer sits down with our analysts, Tim Hagle, of the University of Iowa, and Chris Larimer, of the University of Northern Iowa, to find out what questions are being asked, why it matters, and how much of what we’re seeing is simply political grandstanding.

brewbooks / flickr

Mid-American Energy is planning to invest $1.9 billion in Iowa to add up to about one gigawatt of wind generation, which could power 300-thousand homes. That means more than 600 new wind turbines are expected to be built in Iowa by 2016.  Host Ben Kieffer gets details on the project, and he gets a broader look at wind energy in Iowa with both large- and small-scale turbines. We also talk with an ISU professor a grad student working on designing a different wind turbine tower—one made out of concrete.


Iowa’s biggest economic development deal was announced Wednesday. As Governor Terry Branstad puts it… it’s all about wind energy. Mid-American Energy will in invest 1-point-9 billion dollars in Iowa to add up to 1,050 megawatts of wind generation. That’s about 656 new wind turbines IN IOWA by 2016. Branstad says Iowa’s wind energy industry is a good selling point for high-tech companies like Facebook which just announced it would build a data center in Altoona, just outside of Des Moines.