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Trinity, TPI invited to Iowa Wind Energy Day

Published: Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 12:21 p.m.CST

Newton has two of the largest manufacturers of wind turbine components in the state, and both Trinity Structural Towers and TPI Composites Inc. are invited to Iowa Wind Energy Day on Wednesday.

The event will take place from 8 a.m. to noon at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines. Gov. Terry E. Branstad will be the featured guest speaker at the event.

“It’s one of our most important educational days,” IWEA Executive Director Harold Prior said. “We want to work on educating politicians and visitors. Wind energy experts will be in attendance.”

More than 20 exhibitors will attend. TPI has not confirmed whether they will attend. The Newton Daily News has made repeated efforts to contact Trinity, but representatives were not available for comment.

Newton has benefited from the wind turbine industry. The industry has been growing in demand, and last year TPI was visited by President Barack Obama.

The wind industry employs a growing number of workers. According to Prior, as associate of applied science degree or one-year certification can earn $35,000 to $75,000 per year.

Prior hopes that another part of the industry will come to Iowa, and possibly Newton. There is a job in the industry that allows a worker to monitor turbines. It requires a four-year college degree. The specific title of the job is not known to Prior, but he did know the pay scale was good.

“The worker uses a computer monitoring system that allows them to monitor up to 120 operations,” Prior said.

The worker can access information from any wind turbine in the world. The wind energy program is a lot like the nuclear energy field when it comes connectivity.

“It’s a world-wide industry,” Prior said.

Iowa leads the nation in the number of wind manufacturers and wind-related businesses. Iowa was the first state to exceed 20 percent of its overall electricity from wind. Texas and California are the only other states that beat Iowa in installed capacity.

Farmers’ incomes can be affected by droughts, but wind turbines are guaranteed profit. Turbines only require wind and are low maintenance.

“It requires no cooling water” Prior explained. “It is beneficial to use it. There are no harmful chemicals produced.”

Iowa is tied with Texas at 7,000 for the amount of jobs in the industry. Newton employs about 1,000.

Concerns about renewal of the production tax credits for wind energy have had a negative impact on employment in recent months.

The amount of wind energy jobs have grown,” Newton Development Corporation Executive Director Frank Liebl said. “Land owners received about $15 million in land grants.”

The $15 million Liebl referred to is the amount farmers throughout the state received.

IWEA’s goal is to attain 10,000 megawatts of installed capacity by 2020, and 20,000 megawatts by 2030.

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