Wind energy produces ‘incredible benefits’ for Iowa

Source: By Debi Durham, Sioux City Journal • Posted: Sunday, August 23, 2020

American Wind Week earlier this month was a great time to reflect upon Iowa’s remarkable wind energy leadership, which has brought economic opportunity to countless Iowans.

Iowa was one of the first states in the nation to recognize wind energy’s economic potential, and because of that we have reaped incredible benefits for our state. Today, Iowa ranks first in the nation for its share of in-state electricity generated by wind.

On the national front, wind energy’s environmental impact and declining costs in recent decades have made it the leading source of renewable energy. Wind power emerged from 2019 as the country’s top choice for new power, representing 39 percent of new utility-scale power additions, 120,000 jobs, and 530 domestic manufacturing facilities. It’s difficult to overstate the impact of wind energy on our nation, and Iowa is at the forefront of it all.

According to a report from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “wind technician” recently was labeled the second fastest-growing career in the nation. Shifting demands for sustainable energy sources from both consumers and businesses have resulted in rapid wind project development, boosting the demand for wind technicians.

Iowa’s educational institutions and technical programs have long been national leaders in educating this new workforce, which has grown to 10,000 strong. Iowa’s innovation and leadership in wind energy has been fruitful in other ways, too, attracting global companies such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook to Iowa for energy-intensive developments and investments.

Wind energy is beneficial to Iowa’s job market and the overall economy and is certainly a contributing factor as we get through the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. From power generation to corporate investment, the U.S. wind industry saw record-breaking numbers in 2019. Iowa has consistently been a national leader in the renewable energy industry, and I look forward to further progress in the years to come.

For the sake of our state’s continuous success, we must capitalize on these incredible opportunities.

Debi Durham is director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Iowa Finance Authority.