DES MOINES — Gov. Terry Branstad said today that further growth in Iowa’s wind energy industry will figure heavily into meeting his job-creation goals over the next five years.
Branstad told attendees at the American Wind Energy Association’s wind power supply chain workshop that up to 5,000 Iowa jobs already are supported by manufacturing and wind power development businesses that operate in 56 of the state’s 99 counties.
“We cannot overlook the impact of the wind industry on economic development and jobs in Iowa,” said Branstad, who noted that he planned to discuss wind energy opportunities with Chinese officials during his upcoming 10-day trade mission to South Korea, China and Japan that begins Sunday.
Branstad told the gathering he supports congressional approval of a long-term extension of the wind energy production tax credit to give businesses looking to invest some stability and predictability. He also wants to lead regional transmission discussions aimed at finding ways to “pay for the very expensive cost” of transmission lines and facilities needed to move wind-generated electricity into the grid that serves the nation’s energy needs.
To that end, Branstad announced he will co-host the Midwestern Governors Association, or MGA, meeting on transmission collaboration Thursday and Friday in Des Moines. The meeting will highlight the successes the Midwest has had in transmission planning and development in the region, he said.
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“I am pleased the MGA is in Des Moines to showcase Iowa’s success in advancing energy transmission,” said Branstad, who serves as the association’s vice chairman. “Throughout the Midwest, governors are continuing to make significant progress in transmission development, which is important for future economic growth and producing low-cost and renewable wind energy.”
He said the meeting attendees will include state staff, electric utility and transmission companies, state utility commissioners and other industry stakeholders. In addition to learning about best practices of building transmission lines, participants will be discussing state regulatory planning issues, long-term transmission goals, regional planning and transmission’s role in economic development.
“Wind generation should be part of our national energy policy,” Branstad said.
The governor said the wind industry has helped revitalize rural areas and provided landowners with a significant new revenue source from lease payments of up to $120,000 over a 20-year period for each turbine installed on Iowa farms.
Branstad noted that recent polls showed that more than 80 percent of Iowans held a favorable view of wind energy, adding, “I’ve never gotten 80 percent of the vote, so I appreciate how significant those numbers are.”