Wind energy employs about 6,000 in Iowa, report says

Source: By Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2015

The view from atop a MidAmerican Energy wind turbine

Iowa’s wind energy industry employed about 6,000 people last year, about 2,000 more than in 2013, a report Wednesday showed.

Iowa’s wind energy employment was second only to Texas, which put 17,000 people to work, the American Wind Energy Association reported. Altogether, about 73,000 Americans were employed in the wind industry last year, adding about 23,000 jobs since 2013.

Iowa has seen the development of some large wind energy manufacturing facilities in recent years, including Siemens in Fort Madison, and Trinity Structural Towers and TPI Composites, both in Newton.

Iowa gets 28.5 percent of its energy from wind, the highest level in the nation, the group said.

The state added 511 megawatts of wind energy capacity in 2014, nearly 11 percent of the total 4,854 megawatts added nationally, the association said. Texas captured the 37 percent of the growth with 1,811 megawatts added last year.

Iowa trailed Texas and Oklahoma with added wind power capacity last year.

MORE: Iowa ranks third in wind generation

Major projects in Iowa include MidAmerican Energy’s plan to invest about $2 billion in new wind generation. Berkshire Hathaway Energy, the parent of MidAmerican and other utilities, ranked third nationally for its share of the wind energy market.

Iowa ranked second nationally for the amount of wind energy produced, 16.3 million megawatt hours, following Texas at 39.4 million megawatt hours. California ranked third with 13.8 million megawatt hours.

Iowa produced enough wind energy to power 1.49 million homes, the report said.

The report noted that Iowa ranks second-highest for wind energy production, while ranking third for total installed wind capacity. “This data illustrates how states with the most productive wind resources can be more productive than states with lower average wind speeds,” the association said.

The nation produced more electricity from wind energy in 2014 than in any other year in history, the report said.

It was enough energy to power 16.7 million American homes – or all the residential homes in Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota combined.

The association argued for the reinstatement of a federal production tax credit, which is now expired.

Iowa has seen about $10 billion invested in wind energy since the 1980s, the group said. Nationally, $126 billion has been invested in wind energy, with $100 billion invested since 2008.