NEWTON, Iowa (BUSINESS WIRE) -- GE's multi-state wind blade tour rolled into Iowa today, bringing with it the opportunity to create thousands of manufacturing jobs across the United States if Congress works to enact policy that supports the development of renewable energy sources. The tour is showcasing one of GE's 131-foot advanced technology wind turbine blades that is serving as a traveling petition signed by the public. The blade will cover 2,436 miles and travel through nine states during the 28-day tour.
"The renewable energy industry in the U.S. can be a job creation engine but we need the right federal policies to rev up that engine," said Vic Abate, vice president of GE's Renewable Energy business. "With 1,000 'clean energy' jobs added in the state in 2008 alone, Iowa demonstrates how the wind industry, with supportive policies in place, can help to transform the U.S. manufacturing sector."
GE's wind blade tour stopped Wednesday at Trinity Structural Towers, one of three companies in the Newton area that supply components for GE wind turbines. New employment opportunities created by the wind industry in Iowa have helped to partially offset the jobs that were lost when a Maytag factory near Newton closed in 2007. The Midwest has become a wind turbine manufacturing corridor and Iowa -- the first state to impose a renewable generation requirement on state investor-owned utilities -- has become the hub of this corridor.
The tour also coincides with President Obama's two-day visit to the region focused on the economy, alternative energy and green jobs.
Iowa is the nation's second largest producer of wind energy with 10 percent of the nation's total installed wind capacity. Iowa also has the highest number of wind turbine manufacturing jobs in the country. The state has nine international manufacturing companies supporting the wind industry and 200 other companies in the supply chain.
According to a recent study by Navigant Consulting, a strong, national renewable electricity standard (RES) could result in nearly 275,000 more jobs in the U.S. renewable electricity industry by 2025, including more than 115,000 additional jobs in the Midwest. However, the lack of long-term, predictable policy support such as an RES could be a huge blow to the wind industry's potential for future growth.
"The need for congressional action this year could not be more urgent. Without a national RES, the Navigant study shows we'll actually lose some of the jobs we have today in places like Iowa and other Midwestern states," said Abate. "The rest of the world is not standing still. China and Europe have already enacted robust, clean energy policies that are driving technology investments and creating real jobs. Sustainable policy works."
The GE Capture the Wind tour began in Aberdeen, S.D. and will wrap up in Dallas, Texas, in May as part of the American Wind Energy Association's Windpower 2010, the world's largest wind energy trade show. During the remainder of the tour, the blade will make planned stops in:
• April 30: Top Crop Wind Farm - Ransom, Ill.
• May 6: Center of Science and Industry Museum - Columbus, Ohio
• May 7: Clean Air Fair - Columbus, Ohio
• May 13: GE Appliance Park - Louisville, Ky.
• May 15: Louisville Zoo - Louisville, Ky.
• May 19: Molded Fiber Glass Companies - Gainesville, Texas
• May 23: Windpower 2010 - Dallas, Texas
GE says individuals who see the blade at the planned stops will have the opportunity to sign their names on the blade to pledge their support for a clean energy future and urge America's leaders to support innovative wind policies. The wind blade will carry the message "I'm helping to build America's energy future" to highlight the personal role all Americans can play in making this clean energy vision a reality.