Newton, Iowa, May 4, 2016 — The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) today recognized U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, for his leadership in advancing wind energy in Iowa and around the country, at a factory that has played a key role.
“Senator Grassley has long been a friend of the wind energy industry,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “He was the ‘father’ of the renewable energy Production Tax Credit, or PTC, in 1992, and he’s been an industry champion in Congress ever since. Thanks in large part to his visionary leadership, Iowa just became the first state in the nation to get over 30 percent of its electricity from inexpensive wind power, and up to 7,000 Iowans work in the wind business.”
Kiernan joined Sen. Grassley at the TPI Composites wind blade factory in Newton, Iowa for a town hall meeting with 100 plant workers. Newton’s economy previously revolved around manufacturing Maytag washing machines, but since that work was sent overseas, it found new life as a wind energy hotspot.
The wind blade plant is running at full capacity with 950 employees, near its peak, and is still hiring. Its assembly line has been overhauled twice – making longer and longer blades with advanced designs, which can capture more energy from higher winds in more places.
Among Iowa’s other wind energy success stories are the largest economic development project in the state’s history, a 2,000-megawatt purchase of new wind turbines just announced by MidAmerican Energy; and the tallest turbine in the nation, on an existing MidAmerican wind farm, which reaches higher winds at 112 meters [nearly 370 feet] on a concrete tower that is novel in the United States.
Near TPI Composites is a Trinity Towers plant that employs hundreds more workers making steel towers for wind turbines in the old Maytag factory itself.
“Thanks to the Senator’s hard work and leadership, the U.S. Congress passed a multi-year extension of the PTC in December,” Kiernan said. “This predictable policy will spur new investment into the 2020s. Being here in Iowa, it’s easy to see how those investments drive economic growth throughout the state.
“More recently, the Senator introduced an amendment to make sure that critical wind research at our national laboratories, and in partnership with universities like Iowa State, will continue to be adequately funded. It passed in the Senate with 12 Republican votes. It’s going to foster technology improvements that ultimately lower costs for consumers across the nation.”
Nationally wind energy now generates enough electricity to power 20 million homes; employs a record 88,000 people, including the fastest-growing job description in America, “wind turbine technician”; and has cut two-thirds of its cost in just six years. According to the Department of Energy, with the right policies and transmission lines to get low-cost wind energy to cities and major customers, American wind power can quadruple by 2030.