As you drive across I-80, or on the many gravel roads throughout our state, you see a lot of jobs gently blowing in the breeze. Across the nation, more than 88,000 people work in the wind energy industry, including 7,000 here in Iowa alone. On top of that, the industry is poised to expand rapidly. A recent study suggested Iowa could employ 20,000 workers in the wind energy industry in only three short years. That is because Iowans know investments in renewable energy, like wind or solar, are investments in our rural communities.
In Iowa, we are proud to be home to three factories that manufacture various parts of the wind turbine. From the blades to the towers, Iowa’s hard-working men and women are making the parts right here, where they live, work and play. That means these jobs can’t be exported.
Renewable energy sources not only create jobs, but they also lower our dependence on foreign oil and reduce CO2 emissions. Iowa leads the way in the percent of electricity that comes from wind energy. Currently, 35 percent of Iowa’s electricity is produced by wind. By 2020, it is estimated that over 40 percent of our electricity will be produced by wind. If the state and federal government continue to support this industry, there is no end to what we may be able to achieve.
With all that Iowans know about wind energy, I was shocked that President Trump would come to Cedar Rapids and attack it. Across the state, the wind energy industry has received bipartisan support since 1983, when Iowa became the first state to sign a renewable energy mandate into law. Throughout that time, Iowa has witnessed the benefits from wind energy and has seen its potential growth.
Continued investment in Iowa’s wind energy industry not only creates jobs that can’t be shipped overseas, but will set the stage for long term energy independence and continued economic growth in our rural communities. Investing in wind also helps keep Iowans’ electricity bills lower than average. According to the Iowa Policy Project, during the time since Iowa began using wind power, the average cost Iowans pay for electricity has decreased, while the average cost of electricity has increased nationwide.
Whether it is the jobs created or the reduced dependency on oil, it is clear to all Iowans that wind works!
• Congressman Dave Loebsack represents Iowa’s Second Congressional District and resides in Iowa City