Bisignano: Wind energy is an Iowa economic success story

Source: By Iowa State Senator Tony Bisognano, Des Moines Register • Posted: Monday, October 3, 2016

Innovative energy has been a hallmark of the Iowa economy in recent years. Geography, natural resources and a strong agricultural heritage have positioned us for success in the industry. The Legislature actively supports the growth of Iowa’s homegrown energy options.

Wind energy is one such success story. Iowa’s winds have created jobs, grown business and manufacturing, added to farm income and boosted local economies.

Incentives have made Iowa home to manufacturers and other companies that maintain, repair and provide supplies for wind energy systems. More than 215 Iowa businesses are connected to the wind industry, employing more than 6,000 Iowans.

In 2015, Iowa got more than 31 percent of our electricity from wind. That’s a larger share than any other state. Iowa produces enough wind energy to power more than 1.5 million homes, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

We have encouraged the development of large-scale wind farms, as well as smaller, locally owned wind energy systems. We’ve also made it easier and more affordable to install small wind systems to power homes, businesses and farms.

The environmental benefits of Iowa wind energy are also substantial. By turning to wind, we remove the equivalent of more than 1.3 million cars worth of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and save more than 3.5 billion gallons of water annually.

Iowa is well positioned to continue as a leader in the wind industry. We’re located in the middle of the nation’s largest wind resources. Plus, our community colleges are training workers for a variety of jobs that keep the industry booming.

MidAmerican Energy is planning a $3.6 billion wind turbine operation that will generate up to 2,000 megawatts of electricity through 1,000 turbines — enough energy to power 800,000 homes. Alliant Energy plans to spend $1 billion over five years to add 500 megawatts to a north Iowa wind farm — enough to power 215,000 households — and possibly more in other parts of the state.

STATE SEN. TONY BISIGNANO, D-Des Moines, represents District 17. The district includes portions of central and south Des Moines. He can be reached at 281-3371 or