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Iowa wind creates Iowa jobs

The nacelle of the Clipper Windpower Liberty wind turbine weighs about 104 tons. The blades weigh 32,000 pounds apiece and have a 305-foot rotor span, longer than a football field. The turbine can generate energy using lower winds. When the U.S. Department of Energy called for low-wind turbine proposals, Clipper ¬ Windpower secured an $8.9 million grant. ¬
The nacelle of the Clipper Windpower Liberty wind turbine weighs about 104 tons. The blades weigh 32,000 pounds apiece and have a 305-foot rotor span, longer than a football field. The turbine can generate energy using lower winds. When the U.S. Department of Energy called for low-wind turbine proposals, Clipper ¬ Windpower secured an $8.9 million grant. ¬
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Iowa’s visionary leadership in renewable energy, started decades ago, makes the state an attractive market for innovation and wind energy businesses. Today, we enjoy the health and economic benefits of that vision, generating almost a third of our state’s electricity from wind energy — the highest percentage of any state — while maintaining consumer electricity rates below the national average.

The recently finalized Clean Power Plan is an opportunity to secure Iowa’s future as a clean energy leader. Just as the federal Renewable Fuel Standard stimulates national demand for Iowa’s homegrown biofuels, the Clean Power Plan will increase U.S. demand for renewable energy. By scaling up our state’s wind energy capacity, we can ensure Iowa captures that demand.

The Iowa Wind Energy Association recently released a new report, The Economic Impact of Iowa’s Wind Potential to Meet Carbon Reduction Goals, which showcases how an increase in regional and national demand for wind energy from the Clean Power Plan will translate to expanded economic development and job creation for Iowa.

The report, authored by Dave Swenson, an associate scientist in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University, assessed the economic impact of four different scenarios for increasing Iowa’s wind energy capacity under the Clean Power Plan. According to the findings, Iowa could create an average 483 to 6,424 wind-related jobs each year, and as many as 10,992 jobs during the peak year of wind turbine installment. The majority of jobs created would be in Iowa’s wind energy manufacturing sector to build or supply wind turbines and components, but jobs would also be created in other wind-related sectors, including employment in wind farm construction, wind farm operations and land leasing.

Labor income totals at the wind development levels evaluated in the report range between $21 million and $114 million in the first year, with the potential to grow to $30 million to $594 million by 2030. Value added to the economy could grow up to $2.1 billion by 2030, bringing the final total output to as much as $3.56 billion in the final year.

Increased spending from wind energy businesses will add local jobs, spur additional spending in Iowa’s communities, and provide ongoing economic activity from wind turbine operations, maintenance and land-lease payments to rural landowners. Rural Iowa receives direct economic benefits from wind power through landowner payments, job creation and an expanded tax base. This revenue is crucial to rural communities as they work to upgrade infrastructure like roads and bridges, as well as fund schools and other critical services.

As a national wind energy leader, Iowa is already on-track to achieve and surpass the Clean Power Plan goal thanks to the vision of Iowa’s leaders over the years, as well as the great corporate citizenship here in the state that has already been investing in wind. Wind is not only a renewable and clean energy source, its cost has also dropped to record lows and has become competitive with other energy sources, stabilizing consumer costs by shielding them from fluctuating costs of natural gas. Now we must seize the opportunity to expand this valuable Iowa resource to power more homes and businesses in Iowa and beyond, protecting our communities and strengthening our economy in the process.

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• Mike Prior is executive Director of the Iowa Wind Energy Association. Comments: mike@iowawindenergy.org

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