Pitching for wind jobs

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Iowa Governor Chet Culver campaigned to make Iowa the renewable energy leader in the nation and has worked to make that promise come true. The governor has been in Europe, touring Germany, Denmark and Spain and spoke at the Husum Wind Show Conference in Germany.

Culver spoke of Iowa's focus on renewable energy production, asserting that the state now produces 30 percent of the nation's ethanol and 20 percent of its biodiesel. He was the only elected official from the USA to speak at the conference, where he was hoping to lure more companies that produce parts for wind turbines to Iowa.

Acciona Energy North America is building a wind turbine factory in West Branch, which will employ 110 people; Siemens Power Generation is preparing to open a wind turbine factory in Fort Madison and will hire 200 people; and California-based Clipper Windpower Inc. operates a wind turbine assembly plant in Cedar Rapids with about 140 employees.

According to Culver, wind turbines have as many as 800 different parts, and the vision is to make Iowa a central manufacturing and distribution point for wind turbines for North America.

Iowa ranks third in the nation in output of wind energy behind Texas and California. Iowa has 1,000 wind turbines in operation statewide, producing more than 1,000 megawatts of power.

Culver said the state will be producing more than 2,000 megawatts by 2010, enough to power more than 500,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by nearly 7 billion tons per year.

You have to give the governor credit for marketing the state to the companies that would benefit most from locating in Iowa. Europe has been powering things with the wind for centuries, and the wind farms that have been springing up in our state are primarily powered by components produced by European companies.

Iowa has a good track record with European firms, with 31 European companies locating or expanding in Iowa since 2003, resulting in 2,400 jobs and more than $750 million dollars in capital investment.

Let's hope the pitch brings more jobs to Iowa.