New report: Iowa wind power success story just getting started

A new report finds that Iowa consumers can save $3.6 billion total on their electric bills through 2050 as the state continues to tap its world-class wind resource.

The report, “A wind vision for new growth in Iowa,” was released today by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Wind Energy Foundation (WEF) at Des Moines Area Community College, where 70 percent of students in the Industry and Technology Department study wind-related programs. The report highlights new state-specific data from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in its recently released Wind vision: A new era for wind power in the United States.

While the state already reliably generates over 28 percent of its electricity from wind, the DOE data shows wind could supply over 40 percent of Iowa’s electricity in the next five years. It could more than triple that by 2030. Here are some of the benefits that would provide in 2020, 2030 and 2050:


“Iowa is a national leader in wind energy and it has been great for our economy,” commented U.S. Rep. David Young (R) of Van Meter on the findings. “In Iowa we understand that an investment in wind power is an investment in jobs. I look forward to being a strong voice on Iowa priorities for wind energy issues,” Young said.

“This report highlights only a few of the remarkable ways wind energy has transformed Iowa,” said Mike Prior, Executive Director of the Iowa Wind Energy Association. “Our children are choosing to stay here to study wind energy, and our farmers see a steady flow of added income. This report makes me very excited to think what’s next.”

“Iowa is already a leader in wind energy, but this report shows the Hawkeye state has just scratched the surface of wind power’s benefits to the state,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA.

Wind power already supports up to 7,000 well-paying jobs in Iowa and is a leader in the state’s manufacturing sector, including jobs at 13 factories and assembly plants around the state. The new report shows in addition to creating many more jobs, annual land-lease payments to Iowa farmer and other rural landowners could grow from $17.1 million today to $55 million just 15 years from now, in 2030.

“Iowa families and businesses can reap a tremendous amount of further economic, clean air and water conservation benefits from wind energy,” said Kiernan. “Iowa’s political leadership understands that and any of the 2016 presidential candidates passing through Iowa must take note.”

For decades the Iowa caucuses have been the first major electoral event kicking off the presidential election season and many 2016 presidential candidates have already started to make regular visits to the state. This report can help educate presidential candidates about the potential of wind energy, and its importance to Iowa.

“It is well-documented that extreme weather driven by carbon pollution threatens Iowa’s crop production,” said John Kostyack, Executive Director of WEF. “So it is exciting to see that Iowa is so well-positioned to achieve large reductions in carbon pollution with expanded wind energy,” This report tells a story that’s being repeated in states all across the country – how both our environment and our local economies improve when we develop Made-in-America wind energy.”

By 2020, five years from now, the DOE data shows that other economic and environmental benefits that Iowa would enjoy by expanding wind energy include:

  • Over $49 million in annual property tax revenue to Iowa’s economy
  • Over $19 million dollars a year in payments to farmers, and other rural Iowa landowners
  • 7 billion gallons of fresh water a year conserved annually, or 28.5 billion bottles’ worth
  • More than 6 million metric tons of carbon emissions avoided annually or 1.36 million cars’ worth of emissions

And by 2030, 15 years from now:

  • $136 million in annual property tax revenue to Iowa’s economy
  • Over 4 billion gallons of water a year conserved, or 32.3 billion bottles annually
  • Nearly 8 million metric tons of carbon emissions avoided or 1.66 million cars’ worth of emissions

In addition to revealing many of the enormous benefits laid out in the DOE’s Wind Vision report, A wind vision for new growth in Iowa highlights several successful case studies of wind power in Iowa:

  • MidAmerican Energy Co., which over the past decade has invested $6.7 billion in wind generation, making it the nation’s leading rate-regulated utility in terms of wind ownership.
  • The Rippey wind farm and the farmer-owned Junction Hilltop wind farm in Greene County, which have been cash crops for the state.
  • The Siemens’ wind turbine blade manufacturing plant in Fort Madison, which is the largest employer in Lee County with more than 500 employees.

With stable policies, the national Wind Vision report says American wind energy can quadruple by 2030 and supply the U.S. with 20 percent of its electricity. That would result in 380,000 jobs; increase tax payments to communities to $1.8 billion a year; and bring annual lease payments to farmers and other rural landowners to $650 million.

The report’s findings come as the state’s political leadership and regulatory determines the most cost-effective and reliable way to comply with the soon-to-be-finalized Clean Power Plan proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is the agency’s first-ever draft rules aimed at reducing carbon pollution at existing power plants. New economic analysis by the Energy Information Agency (EIA) shows wind energy will have the largest role nationwide in cost-effectively meeting the Clean Power Plan.

A March 2015 Gallup poll found 84 percent of American voters want the U.S. to put more emphasis or the same emphasis on producing domestic energy from wind. The majority of Republicans and Independents wanted more emphasis.

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