Governor Chet Culver is urging congress to do more to promote the wind energy industry. Culver supports a "renewable electricity standard" that would require more of the nation’s electricity to come from "renewable" sources like wind power rather than traditional sources like coal-fired power plants.
"This is really critical to have a national renewable electricity standard," Culver says. "We’re hoping it’ll be in the range of 10 to 15 percent, meaning that every state will be required to have at least 10 to 15 percent of their energy portfolio from renewable sources."
Culver says there will be "tremendous" growth in the wind energy industry if that standard is enforced.
"We won’t be able to tap our full potential unless every state, especially all the Midwestern states, are required to produce a certain amount of energy from renewable sources like wind," Culver says.
In the past few years there has been dramatic growth in the number of wind "farms" in Iowa. Today, 15 percent of the electricity generated in Iowa comes from wind turbines. That’s far greater than 2006, when just five percent came from the wind.
In addition, Iowa currently has nine companies making the components for wind turbines. The governor says if the federal government establishes this new requirement, other states will start installing more wind turbines.
"So the idea is that other states will start to push ahead on wind farm projects and then our state can supply them with towers, turbines and blades which will create, hopefully, even more green-collar jobs in our state," Culver says.
According to the governor, there are up to $20 billion worth of wind turbine projects within a 600 mile radius of Des Moines.
Culver, who was in Washington, D.C. for much of the week, met Thursday afternoon with the Democratic leaders in the House and Senate to push the idea of a national renewable energy standard. Culver also met with a dozen people who are part of the American Wind Energy Association, including representatives of firms that make wind turbines, towers and blades.