Iowa View: Iowa’s energy solutions are blowing in the wind
At first glance, Iowa seems like a strange place for a national energy capital. Our state does not have an abundance of coal, oil or natural gas. From the air, Iowa looks like farmers’ territory, reflected in its patchwork of corn and soybean fields.
Zooming in, however, reveals another important piece of the Hawkeye State’s vibrant and diverse economy — 3,198 wind turbines dot the Iowa landscape.
Iowa is a national leader in the production of energy from wind and ranks third for installed wind capacity, at 5,133 megawatts, or nearly 25 percent of Iowa’s electricity generated in 2012.
These figures translate into wind power producing enough energy for 1.3 million Iowa homes, all while consuming no fuel. With a wind resource as strong as Iowa’s — as much as 570,714 megawatts with current technology — the opportunities to grow our state’s wind industry are everywhere.
And we are smart to take advantage of those opportunities. The Iowa wind industry supports up to 7,000 jobs with 100 online wind projects, and 15 manufacturing facilities in the wind supply chain, including major turbine, tower and blade manufacturers.
Overall, Iowa makes up a critical part of the more than 550 manufacturing facilities linked to wind in 44 states. This national investment in jobs, economic development, and a cleaner environment attracts an average of $18 billion a year nationally, with a record of $25 billion in 2012.
As a pioneer in American wind power, Iowa reaps the benefits of jobs created by the industry, as well as the significant private investment wind has brought to our state. $9.8 billion has been invested in Iowa wind power, creating one of the most diverse energy markets in the United States.
Wind power also directly benefits communities and rural areas, too. Iowa farmers and landowners collect more than $16 million a year in land lease payments for hosting turbines on their land. Include the millions in taxes to local and state authorities, and wind power is a major agent of economic development, including improved schools, roads and other important public works projects.
Energy from wind helps to revitalize often-overlooked communities with the chance to play a part in the increasingly diverse American energy landscape, securing our energy independence with clean, reliable, and affordable power.
Iowa has established itself as a place where new and innovative energy sources can flourish, due in part to an abundance of available resources (it is quite breezy), but also a statewide attitude that embraces opportunity and encourages looking past the status quo with a vision for a better future.
By embracing wind power, we win in other areas, too, as major innovators in technology and manufacturing choose Iowa for our strong renewable energy portfolio, our friendliness toward new businesses and the health of our communities, helping make our state one of America’s best places to work. Companies that are looking to boost their “green” image, like Google and Facebook, choose Iowa because of its impressive wind power portfolio, and as other businesses follow suit, our state will be ready to accommodate them.
Wind works in Iowa, creating a new American manufacturing sector, promoting innovation, and helping build our communities. As we continue to look forward, we should always consider our state’s enormous potential for even more homegrown power, ensuring our status as a leader in creating America’s energy future.