Comment: Branstad’s support of wind energy drives economy

Source: By John Boorman, Des Moines Register • Posted: Monday, February 1, 2016

Iowans are plenty familiar with the drill going on right now: Candidates from both sides of the aisle traverse our state, promising different ways they’ll help enrich our families and businesses.

But let’s take a moment to thank one man with a 30-year history of delivering on those promises: Gov. Terry Branstad. In particular, Branstad’s strong, consistent support of wind energy has driven economic growth, created thousands of jobs and delivered billions of dollars to our state.

In his recent Condition of the State address, the governor once again championed wind power as a way to provide jobs and opportunities for citizens across Iowa. He explained, “Our leadership in green energy not only makes us a leader in renewables but also powers job growth. Every wind turbine you see while driving across our state means income for farmers, revenue for local governments and jobs for Iowa families.

The numbers prove the governor right. Today, wind power supports as many as 7,000 jobs in Iowa and 12 factories that build wind-related parts and materials in the state. Companies like Facebook and Google are building new data centers in Iowa because they want to power them with clean, affordable and reliable wind energy.

As Branstad noted, “Companies who have invested and located in Iowa have cited our low cost of energy and growing use of renewables as major reasons for locating here.” This brings an entirely new job sector to our citizens.

Due in large part to Branstad’s leadership, wind energy now supplies nearly 30 percent of Iowa’s electricity. Even better, we’re on track to become the first state to get 40 percent of our energy from wind power.

And all of this wind power is saving Iowans money. A recent report finds that, through 2050, wind will help save $3.68 billion on electricity bills and create $4.68 billion through lower natural gas prices.

Branstad also spent a large portion of his address speaking about educational improvements. Support for wind energy is one way the governor helps create a better environment for our state’s students. Wind energy has delivered $10 billion in private capital investment to Iowa, while increased property tax revenue from wind farms could exceed $135 million annually by 2030. Many rural communities rely on these revenue streams to build new schools and fund or improve their educational facilities.

The governor helped put us on this trailblazing path all the way back in 1983, when he led efforts to create the country’s first renewable electricity standard. We thank him for his efforts and visionary leadership to get us to this point, and recognize our work is not done.

Renewable energy support is how a strong, conservative governor can create great economic growth, on display when Iowa did not falter during the recent recession. Robust agricultural and wind energy markets kept Iowa’s economy from declining as much as those of our neighboring states.

JOHN BOORMAN is vice president of the Iowa Wind Energy Association.