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There’s power in the wind
August 30, 2019

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Wind-based generation of electricity is a technology that offers the promise of vast amounts of electrical power produced with few environmental downsides. Iowans are showing the nation just how significant this energy source can be.

According to the Iowa Wind Energy Association, our state has more than 4,000 wind turbines installed. They have the capacity to produce 7,312 megawatts of electrical power. Already, an amazing 37 percent of the Hawkeye State's annual electrical usage is generated from wind. And further growth in this capacity is already planned and will be online in the quite near future. Iowa leads all other states in the percentage of its electricity that comes from wind turbines.

Recognizing the importance of wind as an energy source, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst has introduced legislation that will help strengthen the wind-power industry not only in Iowa but all across the nation the Wind Workforce Modernization and Training Act. The Iowa Republican's goal is to increase training opportunities and bring about modernization of the wind technician workforce.

"Over the last few years, Iowa has become one of the nation's leaders in developing and utilizing dependable wind energy through common-sense incentives, creating thousands of good-paying jobs in our state," Ernst said in announcing this bill. "Communities around the country need look no further than Iowa to see the blueprint for making this green energy successful and reliable."

This key legislative measure has bipartisan sponsorship. Ernst is building a coalition of senators who though they may differ on many issues all regard advancing wind energy as a worthy undertaking. That's vital in a Congress with strong partisan divisions. Her lead co-sponsor is U.S. Sen. Angus King from Maine. He is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats.

Ernst understands that the wind-energy field can offer many attractive employment opportunities. That's why she is putting particular emphasis on helping Americans get the training they need to develop careers in this booming industry. Already it provides employment for about 9,000 Iowans. Nationwide its workforce is 114,000, according to information provided by the American Wind Energy Association. The prospect for many more jobs exists if other states follow Iowa's lead and invest in this energy source. Additionally, more people must obtain the education and training needed to succeed in this field if the industry is to thrive.

Farm News applauds Ernst for championing this bill. We agree with her that it is crucial to develop the workforce that will enable more wind-energy projects to be launched. We also particularly like a provision she has included in this legislation that would help our nation's veterans develop career paths in the wind-energy industry.

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