President Barrack Obama toured the Siemens wind turbine plant in Fort Madison today and told 300 of the plant’s employees that wind energy is a top priority.

Obama says, “So you’re manufacturing blades for some of the most advanced wind turbines in the world. Each one is as tall as Air Force One is long, each is capable of generating enough power for hundreds of homes, just by harnessing the wind. So what’s going on here, what each of the employees of Siemens are involved with, is helping stake America’s claim on a clean energy future, and you’re staking Fort Madison’s claim on America’s future.”

The Siemens plant received almost $3.5-million in tax credits through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Obama says the Fort Madison factory is a great example of what the act has done.

“In the midst of the economic turmoil, the Recovery Act helped make it possible for America to install nearly 10 gigawatts of new wind generating capacity last year alone,” Obama said, “and that’s enough to power more the 2.4 million American homes. So when people ask you what was the recovery act about, what was the stimulus about, it was about this, this plant.”

In closing, Obama told the crowd that legislation dealing with energy independence is key not only to turn the economy around, but also for future generations. Obama says wind power isn’t a silver bullet that will solve all the energy challenges, “The key is to understand that this is a key component, a key part of a comprehensive strategy to move us from an economy that just relies on fossil fuels, to one that relies on more homegrown fuels and clean energy.”

Obama says he believes we can come together on this issue and pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation that “will ignite new industries, spark new jobs in towns just like Fort Madison, make America more energy independent.”

Obama’s stop in Fort Madison was the first of three stops that also includes Mount Pleasant and Ottumwa.

Michael Cation, KBUR, Burlington