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Governor: COVID-19 emergency extended; more retail stores ordered closed

COVID-19 artwork

Governor: COVID-19 emergency extended; more retail stores ordered closed


Governor announces new Iowa Small Business Relief Program

Governor Kim Reynolds announced on Monday, March 23, 2020, the launch of a new Iowa Small Business Relief Program that will provide financial assistance to small businesses that have been economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program offers eligible small businesses grants ranging from $5,000-$25,000, in addition to offering Iowa businesses a deferral of sales and use or withholding taxes due and waiver of penalty and interest.

"We are pleased that the State has responded so quickly, and look forward to helping businesses access this and other assistance as it becomes available," Wendy Ford, the City's Economic Development Coordinator, said. 

Visit Iowa Economic Development's website to learn how to apply: IowaEconomicDevelopment.com.

The application deadline is noon Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

To be eligible for a small business relief grant, eligible businesses must: 

  • Be experiencing business disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Have employed between 2-25 people prior to March 17, 2020 

The Small Business Relief Grants will assist eligible businesses in maintaining operations or reopening business following the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds may not be used to pay debts incurred prior to March 17, 2020.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority will review grant applications for eligibility and will determine the grant amount by the level of impact including loss in sales revenue and employees. Notification of award decisions and disbursement of grant funds will be expedited.

Tax Assistance

The Iowa Department of Revenue will review each application as applicable, to determine if it is appropriate to grant a deferral of the eligible taxes and waiver of penalty and interest.

The program may be restricted due to funding availability.

For all Iowa City COVID-19 news, including a list of additional economic resources for businesses and individuals, visit our webpage at icgov.org/Coronavirus


U.S. CELLULAR TURNS ON 5G NETWORK FOR EASTERN IOWA CUSTOMERS

Area Customers Among First to Get Access to Wireless Carrier’s 5G Technology with Launch of 5G-Ready Samsung Galaxy S20 Smartphones 

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – U.S. Cellular customers in eastern Iowa are among the first to access the company’s new 5G network with the launch of the 5G-ready Samsung Galaxy S20 5G, S20+ 5G and S20 Ultra 5G.

Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Coralville, Dubuque, Fort Madison, Iowa City and Keokuk joins other cities across Iowa with access to the U.S. Cellular 5G network. This initial deployment covers parts of the following eastern Iowa cities:

Anamosa, Asbury, Atkins, Belle Plaine, Bellevue, Burlington, Cascade, Cedar Rapids, Center Junction, Charlotte, Columbus Junction, Coralville, Danville, Donnellson, Dubuque, Dyersville, Fairfield, Farley, Fort Madison, Houghton, Iowa City, Kalona, Keokuk, Keota, Maquoketa, Marion, Montrose, Mount Pleasant, New London, Oasis, Peosta, Riverside, Sigourney, South Amana, Sperry, Urbana, Vinton, Wapello, Wayland, West Burlington, West Liberty, West Point, Wever, What Cheer, Williamsburg, Wilton and Winfield.

Additional 5G coverage will be added to enhance the network experience for Iowa U.S. Cellular customers in the future.

“U.S. Cellular brings fairness to wireless by introducing 5G coverage to our eastern Iowa customers with even faster data connection speeds for a better experience on city streets, country roads and in their homes,” said Mike Adams, U.S. Cellular’s director of sales for Iowa and Nebraska. “We encourage our new and current customers to check out the Galaxy S20 line of smartphones, so they can benefit as we expand our 5G network.”

The multi-year network expansion for 5G in Iowa is a result of previous network investments to modernize equipment and software. In 2019, U.S. Cellular invested nearly $74 million in 5G upgrades to enhance the network experience for Iowa residents.

The 5G-ready Samsung Galaxy S20 smartphones are compatible with U.S. Cellular’s current 4G LTE network. The company will enhance its product portfolio by introducing new 5G smartphones, 5G connected devices, IoT solutions and other customer value added products throughout 2020.

The company is bringing fairness to wireless by building its 5G network in both urban and rural areas. This initial 5G network deployment is on the company’s 600 MHz spectrum and will provide customers in hundreds of Iowa and Wisconsin communities with faster data speeds, seamless video chatting and a more responsive mobile experience. It’s the first phase of a planned multi-year network expansion for 5G across its customer footprint.

A 5G coverage map is available at https://www.uscellular.com/coverage-map. This will be updated throughout the year and beyond as more 5G network coverage is added. For more information about U.S. Cellular’s 5G network, please go to uscellular.com/5G.

About U.S. Cellular

U.S. Cellular is the fifth-largest full-service wireless carrier in the United States, providing national network coverage and industry-leading innovations designed to elevate the customer experience. The Chicago-based carrier is building a stronger network with the latest 5G technology and offers a wide range of communication services that enhance consumers’ lives, increase the competitiveness of local businesses and improve the efficiency of government operations. To learn more about U.S. Cellular, visit one of its retail stores or www.uscellular.com. To get the latest news, promos and videos, connect with U.S. Cellular on Facebook.com/uscellular, Twitter.com/uscellular and YouTube.com/uscellularcorp.


DOT Project on US 151 Starts March 9

According to the Iowa Department of Transportation: Starting Monday, March 9, at 7:00 a.m., US 151 in both directions in the City of Fairfax between Prairie Ave. and Church St. (approximately mile marker 22) will be closed approximately 7 months for bridge repairs. The work will last until approximately mid-November.

Detour information includes: 

  • Southbound traffic will be detoured on US 30 East to I-380 South to Wright Brothers Blvd. West to US 151 South
  • Northbound traffic will be detoured on Wright Brothers Blvd. East to I-380 North to US 30 West to IA 151 South
  • Detour map available online

Local Traffic: 
Local traffic can get through the closure by utilizing local City streets in the City of Fairfax. There will also be a section of US 151 north of the closure open to local traffic; traffic will be shifted to temporary pavement between Stallman Dr. and 80th St. SW (10’0” width limit in this area). 

There will also be a section of US 151 north of the closure that will be open as a single line, alternating traffic pattern between Prairie Ave. and Stallman Dr. This section will have a width limit of 10’0” and a height limit of 15’0.”

For more information, please contact the Iowa Department of Transportation's Resident Construction Engineer Newman Abuissa at 877-226-8110.


Anonymous tip leads to illegal killing of swans, charges

DNR SwansANKENY, Iowa – On December 6, 2019, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources received an anonymous tip about a man shooting trumpeter swans at Paul Errington Marsh, just east of Ankeny.

A hunter alerted authorities of a man shooting trumpeter swans at the marsh. The hunter later heard three shots fired and then saw three swans flopping in the water, as well as other swans flying over.

DNR Conservation Officer Dustin Eighmy arrived on scene a short time later and witnessed the man shoot a trumpeter swan. As Conservation Officer Eighmy was approaching the man, the man shot at another swan. He also witnessed three swans in a pile near the man, as well as the swan he had just killed and two others in the marsh that the man could not retrieve. When questioned, the man claimed he thought the swans were geese.

Loai Abdulal, 28, of Ankeny, is charged with six counts of illegal taking of a non-protected game and one count for an unplugged shotgun. A DNR conservation officer seized his shotgun. The man had shot six trumpeter swans, with five of them being young swans. If convicted, the man will face a $1,500 civil penalty per trumpeter swan.

“Sadly, this isn’t uncommon lately, we’ve seen this happening more frequently so it’s very important that all hunters identify their target before pulling the trigger,” said DNR Conservation Officer Dustin Eighmy. “We’re very thankful that a hunter knew to call to alert us of this poaching incident in a very timely manner.”

NOTE: A criminal charge is merely an accusation unless or until proven guilty in a court of law.

Photo courtesy of the Iowa DNR

 

 


MidAmerican Energy announces first electric vehicle fast-charging sites

Company to build network of 18 fast-charging stations, including 11 “ultra-fast” chargers

DES MOINES, Iowa – MidAmerican Energy Company today announced plans to begin constructing publicly accessible electric vehicle fast-charging stations in five Iowa cities by the end of this year, and 13 more next year, including nearly a dozen “ultra-fast” chargers.

By the end of next month, MidAmerican Energy will begin to install 50 kilowatt direct-current fast chargers in Clarinda, Emmetsburg, Fort Dodge, Sheldon and Waterloo. Next year, the company will install 50 kW chargers in Altoona and Carroll.

Also next year, MidAmerican Energy plans to install 160 kW DC ultra-fast chargers in more heavily traveled corridors in Avoca, Davenport, Early, Fort Dodge and Waterloo. MidAmerican Energy is working with other communities for six additional sites, including two near Des Moines, which the company will announce when it finalizes agreements.

DC fast-chargers, with two charging plugs per station, can generally provide an electric vehicle with an 80% charge in less than 40 minutes. DC ultra-fast chargers can provide the same charge in half the time, depending on certain factors.

In late July, MidAmerican Energy announced a first-of-its kind effort in Iowa to build a fast-charger network throughout the state. The company chose locations within roughly 50 miles of each other to address electric vehicle range anxiety and promote electric vehicle adoption statewide.

“MidAmerican Energy is now breaking ground on a first-of-its-kind electric vehicle charging network in Iowa,” Andrew Lewis, MidAmerican Energy lead engineer, said. “We expect to complete our first DC fast-charging site next month. Throughout next year we’ll add more fast-charging sites as well as ultra-fast chargers, which we’re really excited about,” Lewis added. “This network will benefit our customers, host communities, travelers and the environment.”

Site hosts to operate charging stations
MidAmerican Energy has contracted with Los Angeles-based Greenlots to install charging stations and provide payment systems at host locations. MidAmerican Energy will establish and maintain the charging stations while the site hosts will operate them. Customers pay the usage fee, set by the site host and consistent with state laws and regulations, through a payment card or Greenlots app.

Charging network locations
The 18 charging stations will be within MidAmerican Energy’s service territory, with a focus on the Interstate 80, Interstate 29 and Highway 20 corridors. The chargers will be compatible with nearly all electric vehicles.

50 kW DC fast-charging stations to begin construction by Dec. 31:

  • Clarinda: Casey’s General Store, 1107 S. 16th St.
  • Emmetsburg: Casey’s General Store, 2406 Main St.
  • Fort Dodge: Hy-Vee, 115 S. 29th St.
  • Sheldon: Fareway, 2603 Park St.
  • Waterloo: Waterloo Center for the Arts, 225 Commercial St.

50 kW DC fast-charging station to be built in 2020:

  • Altoona: Hy-Vee Fast and Fresh, 3590 Prairie Fire Drive NW
  • Carroll: site under negotiation

160 kW DC ultra-fast charging stations to be built in 2020:

  • Avoca: Casey’s General Store, 1019 N. Chestnut St.
  • Davenport: site under negotiation
  • Early: Casey’s General Store, 2245 Karr Ave.
  • Fort Dodge: site under negotiation
  • Waterloo: Hy-Vee, 1422 Flammang Dr.
  • Six additional sites under negotiation

Electric vehicle and charger rebates
To further promote electric vehicle adoption in Iowa, MidAmerican Energy began offering electric vehicle and charging station rebates to its customers earlier this year.

The company provides $500 rebates to residential customers who buy or lease a new electric vehicle.

The company also offers $1,500 rebates to businesses that purchase “level 2” charging stations, which generally charge electric vehicles in 4-8 hours.

Rebate information is available on the company’s website at MidAmericanEnergy.com.

About MidAmerican Energy Company
MidAmerican Energy Company, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, serves more than 783,000 electric customers in Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota, and 765,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. Information about MidAmerican Energy is available at MidAmericanEnergy.com and company social media channels.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service selects MidAmerican Energy’s habitat conservation plan as best option to preserve bats and bald eagles at wind farms

MidAmerican Energy will also establish multimillion-dollar conservation funds to grow bat and eagle populations 

DES MOINES, Iowa – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a habitat conservation plan proposed by MidAmerican Energy as the best solution to help preserve certain bat and eagle species at company wind farms.

As part of the plan, MidAmerican Energy will establish conservation funds for statewide bat and eagle programs that will help bolster their populations.

After public input and extensive evaluation, the Fish and Wildlife Service released its final environmental impact statement that concludes MidAmerican Energy’s habitat conservation plan “best fulfills the agency’s statutory mission and responsibilities while meeting the purpose and need.” There is now a 30-day period for the public to review the plan after which the agency can make a final decision to issue a 30-year “incidental take permit.”

The permit would allow for a limited number of incidental takes for four bat species and 10 turbine-related incidental bald eagle takes per year. Bats covered by the permit include the federally endangered Indiana bat, the federally threatened northern long-eared bat, the non-endangered little brown bat and tri-colored bat. The bald eagle is not an endangered species but is protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

The Fish and Wildlife Service found in its final environmental impact statement that this amount of mortality is not likely to result in population-level impacts to bald eagles or bats.

“MidAmerican Energy has worked hard to identify and develop practices that help preserve bats and eagles at the company’s clean energy wind farms,” Josh Mohr, MidAmerican Energy senior director of environmental programs, said. “Through this extensive effort, involving years of comprehensive research and detailed analysis, MidAmerican Energy has established and adopted unparalleled conservation practices at our wind farms. And that won’t change as we continue to grow our wind energy footprint in Iowa.”

Bat and bald eagle protection measures
MidAmerican Energy’s plan, first proposed in April of 2018, helps protect the four bat species by modifying nighttime wind turbine operations during certain months. At four wind farms where researchers found increased signs of nearby bat activity, the company will make additional operational changes, including blade feathering, from mid-July through September. Blade feathering, or turning a blade to reduce its wind exposure, helps keep turbine blades from spinning slowly when light winds don’t blow strongly enough to produce energy.

The company will seasonally adjust the wind speed at which a turbine begins to spin and produce energy. Studies show the adjustment can reduce bat fatalities up to 58%. The changes slightly decrease electric generation output.

The plan also includes measures to reduce bald eagle impacts at MidAmerican Energy wind farms, including educating landowners about removing animal remains that may attract eagles.

MidAmerican Energy to establish bat and bald eagle conservation funds
Under the plan, MidAmerican Energy has committed nearly $10 million to create bat and eagle conservation funds. The funds will support statewide projects to offset impacts to the affected species and help bolster their populations.

“MidAmerican Energy’s investment in a 30-year commitment for a Habitat Conservation Plan that covers the entire state of Iowa for their 22 wind projects to address current and potential conflicts with Bald Eagles demonstrates a commitment not only to a clean energy economy but also to the conservation of an iconic species of bird that is the symbol of our country, and that Audubon and our members treasure,” the conservation advocacy group Audubon Society wrote in public comments it filed with the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Plan based on comprehensive study
MidAmerican Energy’s habitat conservation plan follows an unprecedented four-year series of independent studies covering most of its wind fleet. In November 2014, MidAmerican Energy, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, began the studies to determine how wind farms impact bald eagles and the four bat species. The efforts examined where sensitive bat species and bald eagles appear near MidAmerican Energy wind farms and evaluated their impacts.

The company is using study results to enhance conservation practices for current and future wind farms. MidAmerican Energy will provide annual reports to the agency on company conservation efforts and their effectiveness.

About MidAmerican Energy Company
MidAmerican Energy Company, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, serves more than 783,000 electric customers in Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota, and 765,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. Information about MidAmerican Energy is available at MidAmericanEnergy.com and company social media channels.


MidAmerican Energy to launch electric vehicle fast-charging station network across Iowa

Company seeks to jump-start EV use with fast charging stations at 15 locations

DES MOINES, Iowa – MidAmerican Energy Company today launched a first-of-its kind effort in Iowa to establish a network of electric vehicle fast-charging stations in more than a dozen cities throughout the state.

The company plans to build publicly accessible direct current fast-charging stations, with two charging plugs per station, in 15 urban and rural communities. A DC fast-charger, also called a “Level 3” charger, can generally charge an electric vehicle in 20-45 minutes.

MidAmerican Energy is now accepting applications from businesses and community entities in targeted areas that are interested in hosting charging facilities that MidAmerican Energy will purchase, install and maintain. The company will select at least one location in each targeted area.

MidAmerican Energy seeks to install DC fast-charging sites in Altoona, Avoca, Carroll, Clarinda, Davenport, Dexter, Early, Emmetsburg, Iowa City, Fort Dodge, Little Sioux, Oskaloosa, Sheldon, Sioux City and Waterloo, which are all within the company’s service territory.

“We’re investing in a program that supports our customers by making emission-free driving more attractive and convenient,” Nick Nation, electric operations general manager, said. “This goes hand-in-hand with MidAmerican Energy’s vision to provide our customers with 100% clean, renewable energy.”

Once MidAmerican Energy selects site hosts, the company plans to begin building the charging network by the end of the year.

Charging station hosts will set their own usage fees, consistent with state laws and regulations.

“Car owners and potential buyers tell us access to charging stations within reach of the routes they drive will improve their confidence the electric vehicle will meet their needs,” Nation said. “We’ve come up with a plan to address the range anxiety issue by building an infrastructure of 15 fast-charging stations across Iowa that should be within roughly 50 miles of each other. We think our efforts will help jump-start Iowa’s electric vehicle industry.”

Electric vehicle and charger rebates
To further promote electric vehicle adoption in Iowa, this year, MidAmerican Energy started offering electric vehicle and charging station rebates to its customers.

The company provides $500 rebates to residential customers who buy or lease a new electric vehicle.

The company also offers $1,500 rebates to businesses that purchase “Level 2” charging stations, which generally charge electric vehicles in 4-8 hours.

Rebate information is available on the company’s website at MidAmericanEnergy.com. 

About MidAmerican Energy Company
MidAmerican Energy Company, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, serves more than 783,000 electric customers in Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota, and 765,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. Information about MidAmerican Energy is available at MidAmericanEnergy.com and company social media channels.


MidAmerican Energy provided 51.4% renewable energy to its Iowa customers in 2018, utilities board verifies

Company moves closer to 100% renewable energy vision 

DES MOINES, Iowa – MidAmerican Energy Company provided its Iowa customers with 51.4% of their energy from renewable sources last year, the Iowa Utilities Board verified in an order filed Friday.

The number reflects the amount of renewable generation, as a percent of total retail energy delivered, that MidAmerican Energy provided to its customers in Iowa in 2018.

The renewable energy percentage rose slightly from 2017. MidAmerican Energy expects it to continue to increase, without seeking rate increases, as the company completes additional projects.

“Providing 100% renewable energy annually to our customers is part of MidAmerican Energy’s vision to be the best. We’re on track to do that in the next several years while still keeping rates low,” Adam Wright, MidAmerican Energy president and CEO, said. “Access to clean energy, combined with low rates and high reliability, helps drive Iowa’s economy.”

GreenAdvantage program
MidAmerican Energy’s GreenAdvantage program, available at no charge to all customers, quantifies the amount of renewable energy that electric customers can claim. The program enables businesses, especially those that emphasize clean energy, to claim the verified percentage of energy they received to help them meet corporate sustainability goals.

Company moves closer to 100% renewable energy vision
Last year, MidAmerican Energy announced its latest wind energy project, called Wind XII, which is now underway. The company expects to complete the project late next year.

Wind XII will help move the company closer to being the first investor-owned electric utility in the nation to generate renewable energy equal to 100% of its customers’ usage on an annual basis.

“We continue to work hard every day to add clean wind energy because our customers want it,” Wright said. “And we’re building it at no net cost to them while providing substantial and lasting economic benefits to Iowa communities.”

About MidAmerican Energy Company
MidAmerican Energy Company, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, serves more than 783,000 electric customers in Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota, and 765,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. Information about MidAmerican Energy is available at MidAmericanEnergy.com and company social media channels.