The re-election of President Barack Obama and most of the renewable energy backers in Congress Tuesday were seen as a good sign for Iowa’s wind, ethanol and biodiesel industries.
Iowa’s wind power industry is sputtering without new orders because the lucrative Production Tax Credit is set to expire Dec. 31. About 4,000 wind industry jobs have been trimmed away nationwide, including many in Iowa.
The state’s ethanol and biodiesel industries have seen a slowdown due to high grain prices and falling prices for petroleum-based fuels that ethanol and biodiesel replace. The ethanol industry is seeking to overcome the “blend wall,” or maximum amount of fuel it can hope to sell based on the current federal requirements for ethanol use.
The CEO of the national ethanol trade group Growth Energy, Tom Buis, emailed congratulations to President Obama at midnight. He said the group is looking forward to working with the Obama administration to expand access for products such as the E15 ethanol blend and to defend the Renewable Fuel Standard, which is under attack by the petroleum industry.
The American Wind Energy Association Wednesday said the results greatly improve prospects for an extension of the Production Tax Credit.
The wind group attempted to frame Tuesday’s re-election of Obama as an endorsement of the wind industry. Denise Bode, the group’s CEO, also pointed to the re-election of four Republican U.S. representatives who have been outspoken in support of the wind industry, including two Iowa representatives, Steve King and Tom Latham, as well as Washington’s Dave Reichert and Nevada’s Dean Heller.
“It’s pretty clear that the election results have validated the public’s support for wind energy growing as a major sector of manufacturing,” Bode said.
She said the group is now encouraged that the Production Tax Credit will be extended. About 34,000 wind power industry jobs are at stake, Bode said.
The Solar Energy Industries Association joined in the post-election enthusiasm. Rhone Resch, the group’s CEO, said “we look forward to continuing to work with the Obama administration over the next four years.”
The number of Americans working in the solar industry is placed by the group at 119,000, more than double the number working in that field in 2009.
“Since President Obama took office, the amount of solar powering homes, businesses, and military bases has grown by 400 percent — from 1,100 megawatts in 2008 to more than 5,700 megawatts today,” Resch said.
The presidential election was largely devoid of discussions of climate change, which along with energy independence drives much of the Obama administration’s energy policy.
On Wednesday the value of coal industry stocks sagged, and utility industry analysts predicted tougher regulation.
Shares of two publicly traded coal companies, for example, experienced a drop on Wednesday on expectations of tougher clean air regulations to slow climate change. Arch Coal was down almost 14 percent at midafternoon, and shares of James River Coal Co. were down 26 percent.