A wind turbine manufacturing plant in east-central Iowa has produced a first-of-its-kind product in the U.S. ACCIONA unveiled its AW3000 wind turbine Wednesday at its plant in West Branch. Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, was on hand for the ceremony.
She says the three-megawatt wind turbine doubles the generating capacity of the typical model used in the U.S. “Obviously, the more power you’re putting out at a lower cost means not only are you creating all the jobs in the process, but you’re bringing clean and affordable electricity to American homes and businesses,” Zichal said.
ACCIONA employs around 100 people in West Branch. Company officials said they went ahead with the AW3000 project despite uncertainty over the future of the Federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for the wind energy industry. President Obama supports extending the tax credit beyond the end of this year, while his Republican rival Mitt Romney opposes the idea.
Zichal said the looming expiration of the PTC is forcing some wind energy manufacturers to layoff workers. “According to industry estimates, Iowa has more wind related jobs than any other state in this country,” Zichal said. “So, not only does Iowa have more to gain with this extention (of the tax credit), but if we don’t get it done, Iowa will stand to lose more.” Around 7,000 Iowans hold jobs tied to the wind energy industry.