Governor Chet Culver is asking legislators to put another $25 million into the Iowa Power Fund again this year, despite the state’s budget woes.
"Exactly how close we get to that $25 (million) is unclear given the budget challenges, but I think there is a lot of support generally for continuing to invest in the Power Fund, especially since it’s been so successful. The $30 million that we’ve invested to date has leveraged $190 million in private sector and federal funds," Culver says. "…Iowa wants to be part of the solution when it comes to our energy future and this is going to result in, potentially, thousands and thousands of jobs."
The Iowa Power Fund was created in Culver’s first year as governor, with the idea an allotment of $25 million would be placed in the fund each year — for four years.
An Iowa Lakes Community College program training students to work in the wind energy industry got "Power Fund" grant last year and Culver met with three of the students today.
Cary Haglan of Des Moines is one of 71 students in the current Iowa Lakes class. "Previous graduates tell us when we graduate from here, we’re expected to have 10 to 20 solid job offers from companies all across, really, the nation — almost (the) globe," Haglan says.
Starting salaries in the wind industry are in the range of $50,000. Spencer Baak, an 18-year-old from Newell, Iowa, says with such hot job prospects for graduates, there’s a lot of competition for a slot in the program. "I feel pretty lucky because I am the second-to-last person in my class to be accepted," Baak says.
Twenty-five-year-old Grant Erickson says there’s no doubt the demand for workers in the wind energy industry is much greater than the supply. "I also like the idea of entering an environmentally friendly industry that uses the latest technology," Erickson says.