U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman took a tour of a wind blade manufacturing plant in Newton Wednesday. His tour guide was TPI Composites General Manager Mark Parriot, who said much of the glass used in TPI’s products is sourced from South Carolina. “Most of the products are domestically sourced and the fact of the matter is a surprising number of the products come from right here in Iowa,” Parriot told Poneman.
Iowa currently has nearly 2,900 wind turbines creating 4,500 megawatts of electricity. Ponemon calls Iowa a national leader on wind power. “You’re up to 20-percent of electricity from wind in this state and I think you are seeing this all around the country, as we are getting smarter and better at integrating these renewable wind sources into the grid, I think people are going to learn lessons from Iowa,” Poneman said.
The Iowa Wind Energy Association reported earlier this year that the state could lose up to 3,000 jobs if the wind energy production tax credit isn’t extended. Poneman said Iowa is on the cutting edge of wind energy and he’ll take that message back to President Obama. “I can assure you, I will tell him about the great jobs that are getting created here in Iowa. That (the tax credit) is doing exactly what he has called for in bringing new renewable energy, bringing jobs and bringing clean energy to the American people. And I think it’s going to feed right into our narrative and obviously the conversation we’ll have with congress in terms of the production tax credit,” Poneman said.
The production tax credit — or PTC — benefits wind companies like TPI by lowering their tax load. The PTC is set to expire at the end of this year. Parriot said that would mean a lot less power generated by wind. “I can tell you it will be better for wind and for TPI in Newton to have a long term extension of the PTC,” Parriot said. Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin are among those proposing a two year extension of the tax credit.