Governor Chet Culver says, when it comes to wind energy, Iowa may have had the best year of any state in the nation. In 2007, state officials claim the wind industry accounted for 1,400 new jobs in Iowa. "This has been a fantastic thing for our state," Culver said.
Newton, Fort Madison, Keokuk, West Branch and Cedar Rapids are among the communities to land new facilities or expand an existing business. Iowa currently ranks third in the U.S. in wind power production and will soon be only the second state to manufacture the three major components of a wind turbine.
"The towers are going to be manufactured in Keokuk, the blades are being manufactured in Fort Madison, Cedar Rapids and Newton, and we’re building turbines in West Branch," Culver said. "That is very exciting. Most of those companies are European companies that have decided to come to Iowa to build their first facility in North America." Culver says those companies are coming to Iowa because of the state’s highly trained workforce and prime location.
"With the Mississippi River, we have barge options," Culver explains, "we’ve got class A rail-lines, a terrific interstate system, and very good rural access in Iowa. So, we’re really selling those advantages." The governor believes there’s potential for even more wind energy growth in the near future. Culver says it’s been estimated that within a 600 mile radius of Des Moines, there’s a $21 billion opportunity in the wind energy business.