ANKENY — The governor and business leaders announced a statewide coalition of renewable energy supporters last week they say will push for policies that grow wind energy investments in Iowa.
The coalition called “Power Up Iowa” was announced at Des Moines Area Community College, where vice president Scott Ocken oversees the program that trains people to work on wind turbines. “We’ve got about 60 students in our energy-related programming. We start about 20 new students in the wind turbine technician program every year…we’d like to double those numbers,” Ocken says.
He says the demand is strong for these students. “Just this week we had two employers contact DMACC — they need 40 new wind energy technicians — and they need them now,” according to Ocken. “We started 20 in the fall, we can meet about half of that demand with graduations and attritions, we’ll as close to that as we can get. And then other community colleges will also have to step up.”
Governor Kim Reynolds says the program is a key part of her “Future Ready Iowa Initiative” which seeks to prepare graduates for the high demand jobs. “Bringing people together in public private partnerships like Power Up Iowa is helping our state remain in the forefront of energy policy, and a leader on the national level.” the governor said.
The American Wind Energy Association says Iowa ranks second in the nation in installed wind capacity, and is a leader in wind manufacturing. Facebook regional manager Matt Sexton, said that’s why they chose Iowa for their facility. “Today our two-point-five million square foot campus is supported by 100 percent wind energy from right here in the state of Iowa,” Sexton said.
Sexton said they support the further development of renewable energy. “Just last year we set a goal of reaching 100 percent of renewable energy for all of our operations by 2020. And a big part of that commitment is helping strengthen renewable energy markets, and encouraging others to invest in areas where wind and solar energy are being developed,” according to Sexton says. “Renewable resources are good for the environment and will help to bring further investments to the communities in the state of Iowa.”
Iowa currently generates 37 percent of its electricity using wind power.