EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published in the Des Moines Register on July 28, 2012.
This week, I visited Keystone Electrical Manufacturing Co. in Des Moines and an Acciona plant in West Branch.
As we toured the factory floor of Keystone Electrical, CEO Fred Buie told me about Keystone’s successful business selling switchboards and other electrical equipment. He also told me that orders from the wind industry have grown from almost nothing a decade ago to more than 20 percent of his company’s business today.
In West Branch, Joseph Baker, CEO of Acciona Windpower North America, showed me the facilities where more than 100 workers are making wind turbines today, with room for expansion in the years ahead.
The good jobs at Keystone and Acciona today are part of a larger success story. Across Iowa and across this great country, Americans are finding new opportunities in a growing clean energy industry. In Iowa, wind energy provides roughly 20 percent of electricity and more than 5,000 jobs.
But we can’t take that success for granted. It’s time to keep the momentum going. As I’ve traveled around the world in recent years, I’ve seen how competitors in Asia and Europe are targeting the huge opportunities in clean energy. China, Germany, and other countries are investing heavily in this area. American workers and American technology are the world’s best, but to maintain our historic leadership in clean energy technologies, we’ve got to continue giving our companies and workers the support they deserve.
For President Obama, fighting for U.S. companies and workers is a priority, and that’s why he called on Congress to extend the production tax credit several months ago. It’s a common sense initiative that supports the U.S. wind industry, and this initiative will expire at the end of the year unless Congress acts.
The production tax credit benefits companies throughout the clean energy supply chain, so its expiration would hurt not just wind energy developers, but also companies like Keystone Electrical that sell equipment to wind farms and Acciona that makes wind turbines right here in Iowa.
According to industry estimates, the wind industry supports nearly 20,000 direct jobs along with over 30,000 manufacturing jobs in its supply chain. This tax credit plays an important role in fueling job creation, and as a result it has garnered strong bipartisan support by governors, members of Congress, as well as industry experts.
Extending the production tax credit means lower taxes and more jobs for Americans. It shouldn’t be controversial. It’s past time for Congress to act.
In order to put Americans to work and restore this economy to its full potential, we must make investments in our country -- investments that will put the U.S. in control of its energy future. That’s why President Obama is pursuing an all-of-the-above energy strategy, one that uses every resource we have here and that will help build a strong middle class here in America.
Since 2008, the U.S. has nearly doubled renewable energy generation, and Iowa has played a big part in that growth. During my visit, I saw firsthand how Iowa is helping to lead the country in the growing wind energy industry.