Wind turbines near Hampton, Iowa. (Photo courtesy Flickr)

From Maytag to Wind Power, an American Success Story in Newton, Iowa

It was about ten years ago when it was announced that Maytag had been purchased by Whirlpool. Not long after, it was announced that Whirlpool and all those manufacturing jobs would be leaving Newton.

I remember hosting an economic development forum in Newton in September of 2006 with then-Mayor Chaz Allen. The forum brought together local leaders and federal officials to coordinate the workforce and economic needs of the employees and Newton.

In March of 2007, Newton received the first-ever Regional Innovation Grant from the Department of Labor. It was at that time the idea to lure clean energy manufacturers to Newton evolved.

Senator Grassley speaks to TPI Composite Inc. employees in Newton, Iowa

Soon thereafter, TPI Composites came to town and hired hundreds of workers to assemble wind turbine blades. Trinity Structural Towers came to Newton soon after to build towers for wind turbines. I often remark that when I first authored the production tax credit for wind in 1992, I had no idea the extent to which this credit would be successful in building this industry.

The same holds true for Newton — I had no idea the tremendous potential of wind to bring Newton back from those difficult days. Much like the giant wind blades produced at TPI, wind in Iowa is one giant success story.

And, we couldn’t have done it without companies like TPI, Trinity, Siemens, and Acciona, which saw the quality and second-to-none work ethic of Iowans. Because of our focus on wind energy, Iowa has:

· Cleaner air, with more than 31% of electricity coming from wind;

· Billions of dollars invested in our rural economies;

· 6,000 wind-related jobs;

· A dozen wind manufacturers;

· And hundreds of wind turbines with lease payments to property owners.

I’m glad to fight for wind energy in Washington. That includes consistently fighting to extend the production tax credit for wind. I’m thrilled that last December we won enactment of a five-year extension and phase-out for the credit. The certainty of this five-year extension will lead to even more growth, as evidenced by MidAmerican Energy’s recent announcement.

I’m pleased to witness all the great achievements in Newton as a result of wind energy. It’s truly an American success story, and I’m glad to have been a part of it.

Wind turbine blades being transported