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Iowa Leads The Way For American Renewable Energy Growth

Iowa continues to dominate the U.S. when it comes to renewable energy growth. A new report from nonprofit WorkingNation and Emsi Burning Glass indicates clean energy jobs will increase nearly 20% over the next five years, a significant bump over the national 5% average. Today, almost 13,000 clean energy workers live in Iowa, which boasts America’s highest sector-related employment rate.

“Iowa’s clean energy industry continues to expand across the state,” said Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “We are ranked first in the country in terms of the amount of our electricity that is produced by clean power. Almost 58% of our electricity is from clean power, primarily wind turbine.”

Photo Courtesy Karsten Würth

Renewable energy in the Hawkeye State is dominated by wind, with solar a close second. The northwestern section of the state has strong winds, a perfect place for gathering renewable energy.  

In fact, Iowa’s energy sector includes more than 12,000 megawatts of wind and solar, already powering 3.9 million homes. In 2020, three-fifths of the state’s electricity came from renewable sources, making it second behind Texas in wind-power production.

Numerous new projects are on the horizon, including the Duane Arnold Solar project in Linn County, which will eventually provide 200 megawatts of clean energy and 75 megawatts of battery energy storage. Additionally, Alliant Energy in Des Moines is investing $750 million in solar and battery storage in eastern Iowa, which will be the state’s largest solar project.

Photo Courtesy Alliant Energy

According to Green Jobs Now, there is an increasingly high demand for skilled workers in both areas, and those workers are eligible for higher salaries and bonuses. A single new wind energy project can create more than 200 jobs.

The state’s focus on these clean energy jobs — particularly in the Des Moines and Ames metro areas — has rippled through the economy, leading major corporations such as Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon to invest in the state and bring in even more jobs. Amazon has added seven new warehouses, while Meta recently opened a data center in Altoona. The WorkingNation-Emsi Burning Glass report indicates the state has more than half a million workers with transferable skills to the sector.

Photo Courtesy Duane Arnold Solar

“If there’s going to be a big transition to a green economy, it’s better to be at the table than to be on the menu,” said Charlie Wishman, president of the Iowa Federation of Labor.

Iowa is setting the bar high by creating numerous clean energy jobs, a wise choice to help drive the state’s economic growth. This growth is now supported by the federal government’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure investment plan designed to boost sustainable jobs across the country. The federal government, like Iowa, is focused on training and job skill development for workers whose skill set is easily transferable to the renewable energy sector.


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