This is a great story and it had little if anything to do with
. If ever we need an example of the importance of locally supported leadership, this is it. In a country with over fifty state governments it is possible to find real performers and innovators. Washington
I have recently argued that healthcare needs to be pushed down to the state level in order to introduce both competition and a counterweight to insurance company power. This demonstrates why.
Every success breeds imitation. That is why a seventy year old banking success in
is now in the process of been imitated in several other states. North Dakota
HERMAN K. TRABISH: APRIL 28, 2010
How do you keep them on the farm? Give them jobs in turbine factories.
Iowa ranks 30th among the 50 states in population and 23rd in square miles, but it is number two in wind -- and it wants more.
Iowa added 879 megawatts of new capacity last year (enough to power more than 200,000 homes), the state's installed capacity is now second only to . It has 3,670 megawatts of total installed capacity, enough electricity for 880,000 homes -- in a state with only 3 million people. And it has over 14,000 megawatts of wind power awaiting approval. Texas
The state, known for its dairy farms and bucolic rolling cornfields, also became the leading provider of wind energy manufacturing jobs in 2009.
The numbers reflect the payoff for
Iowa's transformation from farm country to wind country: 2,300 direct manufacturing jobs, an estimated 5,000-to-10,000 direct and indirect jobs associated with wind, $175 million in major manufacturing facilities' investments, 2009 annual property tax payments by wind project owners of $16.5 million, and 2009 annual lease payments to landowners of $11 million. Iowa
Iowa has the seventh best wind energy potential in the U.S. going for it, but a lot of states that have even better wind potential are not yet reaping the bounty that
is. So what's driving the state's success? A long history. Iowa
Iowa enacted its Alternate Energy Production law, essentially the first Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). The law required the state's two regulated utilities to obtain 105 megawatts of renewable energy. The legislation lacked enforcement provisions, however, as did the 2001 voluntary mandate requiring the state to build 1,000 megawatts of wind capacity by 2010. But both were ahead of their time and pointed the way to today's achievements. U.S.
Earlier in this decade, the state's agricultural sector was suffering when, according to Mike Kelley, the Corporate Environmental Health and Safety Manager for Upwind Solutions and a member of the Iowa Wind Energy Association Board, current Democratic Governor Chet Culver and his team saw the new opportunity in wind.
"They saw the wind business beginning to grow, they saw the impact and the Governor and his team became very, very proactive in looking for manufacturers, even out of the country, " Kelley said. "They really flew the flag of
Iowa and what good Midwest values had to offer...and I attribute the growth from the manufacturing standpoint to some visionaries there in the state offices."
With many of its farms failing,
had been losing jobs -- and the people who needed them. The 200 Iowa companies servicing those manufacturers' supply chains have added more than $50 million in new revenue every year. Five community colleges and other training institutions now offer wind-related training. Iowa
Governor Culver now says
is ready to become an energy exporter. The next questions are whether the production expansion can be sustained and how big Iowa 's wind manufacturing industry can get. Iowa
To sustain wind energy production growth,
needs more and better transmission so it can export electricity. Kelley said he expects regulatory hurdles to be cleared and lines to be built in the near future. Iowa
Greg Watkins, the Renewable Energy Planner in the Iowa Office of Energy Independence, says they also expect continued manufacturing growth.
"This may not ramp up more towers in
Iowa, but will stimulate the manufacturers here producing and exporting turbine components to other surrounding states and into ," Watkins said. Canada
Added Joe Jongewaard, Project Manager with the Iowa Department of Economic Development: "We believe that there is a huge expansion in manufacturing capacity of wind generation equipment and that it's going to happen somewhere in the world over the next 3 to 4 years...Iowa is positioned to get more than its share of that expansion. We believe that it's reasonable to expect that 10,000 manufacturing jobs could be created in
by the end of 2014." Iowa
Jongewaard says the state expects to attract more companies to create those jobs and that those companies will create more opportunity for existing and new supply chain manufacturers. The Governor's office, Jongewaard said, has two project managers on staff who do nothing but work to attract wind manufacturers.