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Kicking Off Wind Week, Ernst Introduces Legislation Incentivizing Wind Energy Jobs and Development

The bipartisan legislation would promote training opportunities, modernize the nation’s current wind technician workforce, and create a veterans-focused jobs program

WASHINGTON – As American Wind Week kicks off, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) has introduced bipartisan legislation to help incentivize and promote the development of wind power and wind jobs in Iowa and across the nation.

The Wind Workforce Modernization and Training Act would promote training opportunities for students, community colleges, and technical schools; facilitate the modernization of the current U.S. wind technician workforce; and create career pathways for veterans to more easily enter the wind workforce through the creation of a veterans-focused jobs program similar to the Solar Ready Vets program.

“Over the last few years, Iowa has become one of the nation’s leaders in developing and utilizing dependable wind energy through common sense incentives, creating thousands of good-paying jobs in our state,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “Communities around the country need look no further than Iowa to see the blueprint for making this green energy successful and reliable. I’m extremely proud to work across the aisle on this bipartisan legislation that will continue to incentivize wind energy job development and training, for everyone from our aspiring young students to our brave veterans, here in Iowa and around the nation.”

“The significant wind energy investments across Iowa have created a host of economic development opportunities, including high quality jobs,” said Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “More than 9,000 Iowans are employed within the wind industry, including manufacturing, operations and maintenance, design and engineering professionals. More training will help more Iowans fill these jobs and we’ll grow Iowa’s renewable energy economy.”

“Our diverse and rapidly growing U.S. wind workforce strengthens the economy, particularly in rural America,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “The Wind Workforce Modernization & Training Act of 2019 will ensure the next generation of wind workers have the necessary training and it will help U.S. veterans translate their unique skillsets into careers that further the energy security of our country.  We applaud Sen. Ernst and Sen. King for introducing this legislation and we’ll work hard with these leaders to make it into law.”

The Wind Workforce Modernization and Training Act consists of three major components to help promote the development of wind energy and wind jobs:

  • Promoting Training Opportunities – The legislation authorizes $2 million annually for five years for the Department of Energy (DOE) to administer a competitive grant program for community colleges and technical schools with wind training programs to purchase large pieces of wind equipment for use in the training of wind technician students, such as nacelles, towers and blades.
  • Modernizing the Nation’s Current Wind Technician Workforce – The bill would require a report that assesses the needs of the growing wind technician workforce. The report would be written by stakeholders to include representatives from the DOE, the Department of Labor, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Education, technical and community colleges with wind technician training programs, and the wind industry.
  • Create Career Pathways for Veterans – The legislation authorizes $2 million annually over five years to establish a program to prepare veterans for careers in the wind energy industry. This program would be based on the Solar Ready Vets program that was launched through the DOE in 2014.

Senator Angus King (I-ME) is a lead cosponsor of the legislation.

This August 11-17 marks the third annual American Wind Week, a national celebration of U.S. leadership in wind energy production that started in 2017 when wind became the country’s largest source of renewable electricity generating capacity. During Wind Week, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and supporters of wind energy highlight the many ways that wind powers opportunity at dozens of events across the country and online with #AmericanWindWeek.