Let’s invest in green jobs for graduates of 2013

Iowa residents and the environment are receiving a well-needed boost thanks to the federal tax credit for wind energy. MidAmerican Energy, one of the nation’s largest producers of renewable energy, recently announced a $1.9 billion project that will increase total wind capacity to 3,300 megawatts, up from 1,050 now. The growth is made possible solely by the tax credit.

Passed in January, the tax credit provides almost 6,000 jobs for Iowans constructing and maintaining wind turbines. Wind energy has been hailed by many as a renewable source of energy that is more environmentally friendly than other sources such as coal or natural gas.

Iowa currently has 14 wind farms and over 1,200 turbines spread across the state. Most turbines tend to be built in the western part of Iowa due to the region’s windy tendencies. The tax credit was highly opposed by 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who argued that it would create an unfair advantage for wind farms over the oil industry. Obama supported the tax credit along with Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. Tom Harkin and Gov. Terry Branstad, citing job creation.

Iowa’s growth will be helped by this credit, along with becoming a more energy sustainable state. The tax credit will support many Iowa families and the environment we live in.

Last year at this time, the renewal of the federal tax credit for wind energy was in doubt as voters weighed presidential candidates. Many of the wind turbine companies had frozen or even cut back on production as they waited to see what the outcome of the election would be. Iowans who had graduated from community colleges with degrees in working with wind energy technology also sat waiting to see whether their investments in training for jobs in helping Iowa lead the nation in clean energy would move forward or be placed on hold. At least for this $1.9 million MidAmerican investment, they now know, thanks to the one-year tax credit extension.

But more Iowa graduates are waiting to see just how serious this state is about a long term investment in wind energy. They are waiting to see whether lawmakers can make the same long term commitments to clean energy as they have to other energies such as petroleum, even though those companies are the richest companies in the history of the world. As the class of 2013 walks across the stage in a couple weeks, let’s ensure them that Iowa is committed to making green jobs available to them in the future by renewing the federal tax credit for the long term.

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