Iowa Leads Nation in Wind Energy Generation

The state of Iowa is continuing its tradition of leadership in wind energy and showcasing the state’s forward-looking strategy to develop alternative energy sources for the economy of the future at the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) 2011 WINDPOWER Conference and Exhibition.

Well on the path to generate 20 percent of its electricity from wind turbines, Iowa is receiving recognition from several key government and industry leaders who say Iowa will play an important role in meeting President Obama’s new energy goals.

According to the 2010 AWEA Industry Report, Iowa continues to lead the nation in wind generation with 15 percent of its electricity coming from wind. That number is expected to reach 20 percent later this year when Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy completes its expansion, bringing Iowa one step closer to its goal of generating half the state’s electricity from wind by the year 2030. That would also allow it to export 30 percent of its wind energy to other states.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad also echoed plans for the state’s wind industry growth saying, "Iowa’s continued strength and leadership in the wind industry is a testament to our state’s vision and legacy of being a trailblazer in alternative energies. Our workforce, natural resources and wind marketplace are growing exponentially each year, and we anticipate even more momentum with companies such as Nadicom and MidAmerican working on projects that will bring more jobs, income and innovations to the state."

The U.S. wind market entered 2011 with 5,600 MW under construction—more than twice the amount of megawatts under construction at the start of 2010. Iowa’s wind industry continues to expand and currently has over 2,500 turbines capable of producing 3,675 megawatts of power, ranking it second among U.S. states in total generation. During the last few years, Iowa has led the nation in attracting wind energy manufacturers and boasts a supply chain that supports more than 2,300 jobs and involves over 80 Iowa businesses.

Centrally located, Iowa is at the heart of a region that not only boasts some of the nation’s most abundant wind resources but also where four proposed transmission lines converge to allow Midwestern wind to be distributed into various regional transmission systems. Iowa is home to companies such as Siemens, Clipper Windpower, Trinity Towers, Acciona Windpower and TPI Composites.

The state also offers industry-renown assisted training programs in which community colleges work with company trainers to develop customized programs for students who want to work in the wind energy industry – shortening the time between hiring and profitable productivity.

"The transition from graduating at Kirkwood Community College and coming to work for Clipper Windpower was nearly seamless. Within my first week at Clipper I was able to jump into a project," said Tyler Glass, Pro E Designer at Clipper Windpower and Kirkwood graduate.

Another example of Iowa’s wind workforce training is Iowa Lakes Community College. Located in Emmetsburg, Iowa, the college is only one of three programs in the country to receive AWEA’s prestigious Wind Turbine Service Technician Program Seal of Approval.

A snapshot of Iowa’s growing wind power industry:

Iowa ranks second nationally in current wind farmgeneration output with 3,675 MW installed with 2,534 turbines across the state. (AWEA, 2011)

Iowa is number one in the nation for wind generation as a percentage of total power output at 17-20 percent. (Iowa Utilities Board, 2010)

MidAmerican Energy is second among investor-owned utilities in ownership of wind energy farms with about 3,129 MW in production (AWEA, 2010).

Acciona Windpower was recently awarded over $3 million by the Iowa Power Fund to install new wind turbines in Iowa.

Seven of the state’s community colleges have joined with the state’s three regent universities to form comprehensive wind energy training programs.

A heritage of manufacturing excellence is fueled by a ready source of highly qualified and skilled workers. Approximately 4,100 manufacturers employ more than 198,000 Iowans and generate more than $9.5 billion in payroll.

Iowa invested $7.5 million into transportation for the wind power industry, specifically wind to rail facilities and barge facilities. They are all scheduled to come online in the next few years.