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Guest opinion: Engineering students against proposed energy legislation

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The UI American Society of Mechanical Engineers Solar Car Team speaks out against Senate File 2311, which would place caps on taxes for energy-efficiency programs.

Dear Representative,

The legislation addressing the modification of various provisions relating to public utilities, known as Senate File 2311, is of paramount interest to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers — Solar Car Team, a 50-person student organization that is part of the University of Iowa College of Engineering.

We are a group of students that gravitated from very distinct backgrounds toward engineering because we see it as a way to solve problems. Additionally, we are aware of the current problems surrounding climate change. When you put those together, a Solar Car Team becomes an obvious choice to spend our time on.

Our mission is to design, build, and race a solar-powered car and use it as a tool to positively affect our community and the environment. In doing so, we are raising awareness about climate challenges and the sustainable solutions available to solve them. In other words, we feel very strongly about clean technologies and solar energy in particular.

RELATED: Perspectives on Senate file 2311

The proposed caps on energy-efficiency programs, the option for consumers to opt out of efficiency programs, and the one-sided transparency about the cost of the programs will indirectly affect the future to which we are committed, a future with clean and affordable energy for all. This is what prompted us to write this letter.

We feel this topic has been extensively discussed by both those who will benefit and those that will lose from the proposed policy changes. Nonetheless, we wanted to write to express our concern about the policies described in SF2311. We believe we offer a different perspective on this subject, one that takes the side of the future parties and is not directly affected by the outcome of this bill.

We understand that the details about this are very important to some. However, we wanted to open the scope of the conversation to a bigger picture, the picture of tomorrow. We are the citizens of the future: the mothers and fathers to be, the incoming workers and the tomorrow’s taxpayers, and most importantly, those who will inherit your generation’s problems and decisions. This is to say, as young students, we represent the future citizens of the state of Iowa and of the world.

RELATED: Issues old solar car hits road to help UIS ASME team

Therefore, backtracking on energy-efficiency programs is not the way to ensure a clean and sustainable future. This is not the time to scale back any programs that push us in the sustainable direction, but the time to multiply them and create urgency in the matter. This is the time to build on our clean-energy legacy and expand it to different areas. Now is the time to re-establish Iowa as a leading state in the fight against climate change in the United States and in the world.

We feel it is important to stress that this is not a fight between interested parties, this is a fight against time. Every day we get closer to the point where the wrong we do to our planet becomes irreversible. And this bill doesn’t buy us any time but sells it for short-term profits.

This is the core message we would like you to consider. We understand that the savings you can offer your constituency today will be much appreciated, but please consider the effect of that in the long run. Please consider the lack of appreciation future generations will feel when they see themselves trapped between unsurmountable problems and a world much different from the one we currently enjoy.

Although we have read reports of your peers’ positions in the newspapers, we realize that may not reflect your viewpoint. Therefore, we will look forward to your reply expressing your opinions, and your current stance on the issue.

Thank you for your consideration of our viewpoint on this matter. We believe it is an important issue, especially as it plays a fundamental role on one of the problems of the century: climate change. We would like to see the legislation be amended to ensure the continuation of current energy-efficiency programs.


ASME — Solar Car Team





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