A wind power industry group says Iowa could triple its output of wind power by 2020 and expand its wind power output sixfold by the year 2030.
The Iowa Wind Energy Association announced Wednesday that it will support a goal of expanding the industry’s capacity from the current 3,670 megawatts of nameplate capacity to 10 gigawatts by 2020 and and to 20 gigawatts by 2030.
The expansion of wind power would drive growth in jobs, salaries, farm income, and property tax revenue, Iowa Wind Energy Association Executive Director Harold Prior said.
Meeting the 20 gigawatt goal would mean 9,567 new jobs, $23.8 million in additional land lease payments, and $6.1 billion in property tax assessed valuation, the group said. It estimated the goal would generate $248.8 million in new salary income for Iowans.
“Wind energy is one of the few industries with no rural-urban split, and there is also no partisan split,” Prior said during the meeting at Van Meter Industrial in Cedar Rapids.
Meeting the goal would require the industry to overcome some hurdles. The most notable is a transmission grid that is already straining to transmit the amounts of electricity generated when wind farms are operating at high output.
State. Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, was not deterred.
“There is no question in my mind that if we commit to it we can triple Iowa’s wind generating capacity in this decade,” Hogg said.
He added that “you won’t have to wait 10 years to get one kilowatt hour,” a possible dig at legislation backed by MidAmerican Energy to provide favorable regulatory treatment for construction of a nuclear power plant.
Hogg did not say what he thinks the state government can or should do to make the goal achievable, but said he does believe legislative assistance will be necessary. He said he personally supports incentives such as renewable portfolio standards for utilities, feed-in tariffs to encourage small local wind projects, and production tax incentives.
“It’s not for me to choose which particular tools we should use,” Hogg said.
State Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, praised the employment opportunities in wind power, saying her son has had more stable employment in his new job at Acciona Windpower in West Branch than in his previous occupation as an automotive technician.
“When somebody asks my grandchildren where their been happy at his job at Acciona Windpower in West Branch after earlier working as an automotive technician.
The four-year-old Iowa Wind Energy Association has over 100 members, many of them wind industry equipment suppliers and consultants.