First in the nation: Iowa’s wind energy success story

Source: By Jay Byers, Des Moines Register • Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2020

Iowa’s success story with wind represents a textbook example of combining our available resources and workforce to spark economic growth, job creation, tax revenue, and business investment

On Monday, Iowans will take part in our first-in-the-nation caucuses and once again play an integral role in the presidential process. Not only is this a great opportunity for exposure to the candidates — it’s also a great opportunity for exposure to the issues that are defining our economic future.

In central Iowa and all across our state, Iowans are working to cultivate an environment that will attract long-term business growth and retention. We need the workforce, the resources, and the job opportunities to remain competitive on the national scale.

Fortunately, Iowa isn’t just a state that’s good at attracting presidential candidates. We’re a state that’s tapped into sustainable resources to form a 21st-century economy. Iowa is now leading the nation in the fastest-growing — and cheapest — renewable energy source: wind energy.

Not long ago, wind power as a source of energy was an untapped novelty. But our state’s leaders early commitment to wind allowed us to be at the forefront of its advancement and economic potential. Today, companies both large and small are directly citing Iowa’s investments in wind as a key factor for why they are investing in our state. Wind energy is spurring economic development activity including, new tax revenue for communities, jobs for Iowans, and innovations that were not possible years ago.

Now, the state hosting the first-in-the-nation caucuses is also known as the first state to produce over one-third of its energy from wind. This milestone represents Iowa’s long-term commitment to wind energy that has resulted in our state achieving second in the nation for wind capacity, leading world-class wind education programs, and supporting nearly 10,000 jobs.

These jobs aren’t just found on wind farms themselves. Significant manufacturing growth has occurred with 10 facilities across Iowa devoted to producing components that keep the wind sector growing.

Wind consistently generates power across our modern energy grid, while the price of wind has significantly declined over the past decade. It’s no secret that our state’s low cost of living — and in turn low energy rates — are a critical economic development tool. Unlike other energy sources, wind is unaffected by fluctuations in the market. Wind’s growth has been synonymous with economic certainty. All told, the clean, affordable wind power produced in our backyard is enough to power more than 2 million American homes annually.

Iowans can be proud of our progress, but we’re not the only state to recognize wind’s potential. Iowa’s leaders must capitalize on the untapped wind power yet to be developed that will continue to give our state a competitive advantage and define our economic trajectory. The Greater Des Moines Partnership supports extending the Wind Energy Tax Credit to align those incentives with those supporting all clean energy, recognizing the role played and the opportunity to continue growth of the industry.

Want more opinions? Read other perspectives with our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook or visit us at DesMoinesRegister.com/Opinion. Respond to any opinion by submitting a Letter to the Editor at DesMoinesRegister.com/Letters.

► Starting the important conversations. Subscribe today to support local journalism.​​​​​​​

Iowans will no doubt hear plenty of discussion about the economy before the caucuses, including how candidates are supporting green collar jobs propping up across the country.  Iowans can confidently cite our wind power as a leader in this category.

Iowa’s success story with wind represents a textbook example of combining our available resources and workforce to spark economic growth, job creation, tax revenue, and business investment — and doing so in an environmentally sustainable way.

Whether you’re a lifelong Iowan or are simply here to witness the spectacle, I hope you’ll take a moment to witness how wind energy is driving our economic growth, and how our state’s leadership is creating a model for the rest of the country to follow.

Jay Byers is CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership a member of Power Up Iowa.