Invest in Iowa clean energy

A MidAmerican energy wind turbine is seen alongside Interstate 80 in Malcom on Wednesday, May 12, 2021.

Every day in my job installing wind turbines, I work to keep our country safer, cleaner, and empowered. I’m proud of my work helping to end our dependence on volatile fossil fuels and building real American energy security. There is so much more opportunity to grow this field and create thousands of fulfilling and good paying jobs.

Iowa is the heartland for wind power. I got my start working in wind energy in my home state in 2015 providing maintenance and service for a project not far from where I live in Grinnell. The experience I gained over the next four years gave me the opportunity to provide for my family and provide for my community by building the resilience of the electrical system in Iowa.

Now I am bringing my home state knowledge all over the country working on new projects in other places. I am currently working alongside 200 men and women in the Pacific Northwest, upgrading over 300 turbines to operate more efficiently and consistently to power over 500,000 homes. I work with the construction contractor to ensure the safety and quality of the work as it is done. With every turbine completed, we are building America’s power system, and bringing safer, cleaner, more dependable electricity to consumers all over the country.

I had one of the 9,000 jobs in wind power in Iowa. I have to thank Sen. Chuck Grassley for so much of his leadership, including having the foresight years ago in championing the Wind Energy Incentive Act.

But given the invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis, we need to do so much more and soon. The Senate has an opportunity to expand on this progress. I encourage Sen. Grassley to support the House-passed Reconciliation Bill which has vital tax credits for the wind energy sector, along with provisions ensuring that it will create good, family-supporting jobs. It is vital that Congress pass these elements which will create over 1 million jobs in the next decade. An analysis found that these tax credits, which also fund solar and nuclear, would lead to a 64 to 73 percent reduction in climate warming pollution in the power sector from 2005 levels by 2031.

The provisions also include $2.9 billion to update the electrical grid to make it more conducive to transmitting all the new wind and solar power coming online, $12.5 billion in rebates for homeowners who install more energy-efficient appliances like heat pumps, $55 billion to promote climate-friendly farming and forestry and research programs, $29 billion for a “green bank” program to help communities finance renewable energy projects, and $10 billion to help rural electric cooperatives cover the cost of switching from coal plants to renewable energy.

Boosting the clean energy economy is a good investment. Clean energy is the fastest-growing industry in America and already supports 3 million jobs that pay 25 percent higher than the national median wage. These jobs cannot be offshored and many are in rural communities.

These solutions are good for Iowans. I urge Sen. Grassley to get behind this bill and maintain his well-earned title as the Father of Wind in Iowa.

Joe Zimsen of Grinnell has worked in the wind industry for seven years. He is a member of the Green Workers Alliance.

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