New coalition Windward Iowa to advocate for more wind projects - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New coalition Windward Iowa to advocate for more wind projects

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Students at Kirkwood Community College can now train for many different jobs in the wind industry field.

"The ones that are out there maintaining the turbines, the O&M crews, the construction crews, that's where the jobs are at right now," said David Bennett, a Kirkwood Community College instructor.

According to the Iowa Wind Energy Association, there are currently around 7,000 people working in wind energy in Iowa.

The organization wants to see that number double by 2020 by increasing the amount of megawatts of wind energy produced.

"The only thing that hold us back right now in the state of Iowa is transmission," said Mike Prior, interim executive director of the Iowa Wind Energy Association. "We need to continue to build our transmission and our electric infrastructure."

That's where a new coalition comes in.

Windward Iowa plans to advocate for new transmission lines and wind turbine projects to keep Iowa's wind energy production going.

"We want to make sure that we build new electrical grids that support the industry in the future," said Craig Lang, a Windward Iowa board member.

The new group wants to bring activists, vendors and industry leaders together.

"What we want to be is a common source of information where you can go and get information about the growth of the wind industry and the progress of building new electrical grids," said Lang.

The group hopes that by bringing people together, there will continue to be Iowa jobs available for these students.

Board members say Windward Iowa supports any effort to build new transmission lines. That includes the Rock Island Clean Line.

Many people, including farmers and legislators, have spoken out against the Rock Island Clean Line. One concern is the company's plan to use eminent domain -- which means the government can use private property for public use with payment or compensation.
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