By continuing to grow the state’s thriving wind industry, more than 17,000 wind-related jobs could be in Iowa by 2020, according to recent Navigant Consulting analysis, as highlighted by the Iowa Wind Energy Association (IWEA) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
The findings come as wind energy supporters take to the State Capitol to meet with legislators and Gov. Terry Branstad, R-Iowa, and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, R-Iowa, to call on state officials to continue policies that are growing wind energy.
“Gov. Terry Branstad knows wind works for Iowa, and it’s largely thanks to him that over 17,000 wind-related jobs in Iowa are possible in just a few years,” says Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “Wind does not provide just well paying jobs either; many Iowans also know wind farms are the new ‘drought-resistant cash crop’ in Iowa, paying up to $20 million a year to Iowa farmers. Wind is already responsible for more than 36 percent of Iowa’s electricity generation, and with recent project announcements, the state will push past 40 percent in the coming years. We’re going to work with elected officials in Iowa to make sure that happens.”
IWEA and AWEA note that Branstad has been tapped to become the next U.S. ambassador to China. In turn, Reynolds will take over as governor once he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
“Perhaps the most important impact wind has had on our state are the high-quality, good-paying jobs that are helping grow family incomes in Iowa,” says Branstad. “But wind has also helped us reduce our dependence on foreign oil – something that Iowa was almost exclusively reliant upon in the 1980s, when I was first governor.”
By continuing to spur the wind industry, the incoming governor can help attract even more business to Iowa, the groups say. Wind-related jobs can reach 11,500 jobs at wind companies and in the supply chain by 2020, according to Navigant. When considering jobs added in the communities surrounding wind farms and factories, this rises to 17,300 jobs. Compared with other states, Iowa is projected to contain the third most wind-related jobs in 2020, trailing only Texas and Colorado, say AWEA and IWEA.
In addition, the Navigant report says more than $9 billion in economic activity is expected to be contributed by the wind industry in Iowa from 2017-2020. This includes investments in new wind projects; turbine operations and maintenance; land lease payments; and sales, income and property tax payments. Only Texas will experience more economic activity from the U.S. wind industry, the groups say.
Moreover, the $370 million in income, sales and property tax payments, which often are the largest funding source for local programs, help counties pay teachers, build classrooms, pave roads and keep hospitals open, the groups note.
At over 36%, Iowa already leads the country in the percentage of electricity the state obtains from wind energy. In turn, the state has already seen “tremendous economic benefits,” according to the groups: $11.8 billion in project investments and over 8,000 direct and indirect jobs, including manufacturing jobs at 11 wind-related factories and assembly plants in Iowa. Notably, wind farm owners also pay over $20 million a year to Iowa farmers and other rural landowners.
“Iowa’s become a national leader in wind energy, thanks to Gov. Branstad’s own leadership,” says John Boorman, vice president of IWEA. “Iowans can continue to benefit from growing low-cost, reliable wind energy here in the Hawkeye State as Lt. Gov. Reynolds follows in his footsteps.”