DES MOINES, Iowa – The American Clean Power Association released its 2020 Annual Report, and it ranked the state of Iowa first in clean power penetration among the states. Iowa’s clean power share is 57.6 percent, followed by Kansas with 43.4 percent and Oklahoma with 35.5 percent.
Iowa was ranked third in the nation for clean power generation with 34,174,172 megawatts per hour. However, the state trails Texas and California, which were ranked first and second, respectfully. In addition, Iowa is one of only seven states that generate at least 25 percent of their electricity from wind and solar.
Nationally, wind and solar provided 10.7 percent of the nation’s energy in 2020 the report notes.
The new report also reveals that Iowa’s renewable energy investments grew to nearly $21 billion, and in 2020, the renewable energy industry employed 5,210 workers across the state.
“Iowa’s ability to attract companies to invest in our state has sparked the creation of a strong renewable energy workforce,” Beth Townsend, Director of Iowa Workforce Development, said in a released statement. “We are fortunate to have robust training programs that have created an affordable path to good-paying careers for more than 5,000 Iowans – and that doesn’t count the many additional careers supported by the renewable energy supply chain, including jobs in manufacturing, transportation, and construction. Our state’s leadership in clean power, particularly in rural areas, has allowed more Iowans to remain in the Heartland while providing for their families – a trend that is looking upward in the years to come.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), wind turbine technicians and solar installers are two of the fastest-growing careers in the nation. BLS predicts a 61 percent growth rate over the next decade for wind turbine service technicians who earned a median pay in 2020 of $56,230 per year. Likewise, solar photovoltaic installers are predicted to see a 51 percent growth rate, a career whose median pay was $46,470 last year.
“The growth of Iowa’s renewable energy industry will bring huge benefits to the state in terms of attracting new businesses,” Doug Neumann, Executive Director of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, stated in response to the report. “More and more companies are looking to locate in communities where they can meet their renewable energy commitments, and Iowa communities are attracting business for that very reason.”
Farmers and landowners have also benefitted from the clean energy production in the state. Annual land lease payments reached $60 million in 2020. In addition, clean energy production generated nearly $115 million in state and local taxes in 2020.
Clean energy in the U.S. topped 170,378 MW and now has enough wind and solar energy capacity to power the equivalent of 50 million homes – more than a third of the nation’s houses. In 2020, annual land-lease payments from clean power projects totaled $800 million nationally. Nationwide, state and local tax revenue from clean power projects across the nation reached $1.7 billion last year, and more than 415,000 Americans worked in the clean power industry in 2020.
PowerUp Iowa, in a press release about the report, noted that the $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan includes $73 billion in funding for clean energy transmission and updated power infrastructure. They note that investment would “put the country into the next phase of the transition to sustainable, renewable energy.”
Republicans have criticized the size and scope of the infrastructure package’s price tag and the fact it includes elements that are not considered infrastructures, such as child care.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, criticized “the spending spree” in a recent column.
“While our families are already feeling the burden from rising costs of goods and services, Washington Democrats want to continue to spend at reckless rates,” she wrote.
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, also recently criticized the infrastructure package for not including biofuels.