Remarks by the President on Wind Energy
Heil Family Farm
2:55 P.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I want to thank Jeff Heil and his father, Richard, for showing me around the farm. And I think it’s remarkable to think that the Heil family has been farming this land since 1902, but they’ve got a relatively new addition in the wind turbines that you see in the background. They’re part of the Laurel wind farm -- 52 turbines that harvest enough wind power to power an estimated 30,000 Iowa homes in a way that’s clean and renewable.
And at a moment when we want to pursue every avenue for job creation, it’s homegrown energy like wind that’s creating good, new jobs in states like Iowa. Let me give you an example. Back when I was first running for this office and spending a lot of time in this state, I visited the town of Newton, about a half an hour down the road. The local Maytag plant was closing its doors and nearly 2,000 jobs were on the line. So you had a once-thriving factory that was going dark and going quiet and, understandably, folks were worried about what would happen to the community.
Then wind energy offered a new opportunity. When I returned to Newton to visit that plant as President several months ago, some of the same folks who had lost their jobs at Maytag were back on the line building wind towers to support some of the most advanced wind turbines in the world.
Earlier this year, at a different plant about five minutes from there, I met workers building enormous blades for these wind turbines. And I’m proud of the fact that, while we used to have to import parts like those, today they’re made in Newton, made in Iowa, made in America by American workers.
Unfortunately, what we thought was a bipartisan consensus in supporting wind power has been fraying a little bit during election season. My opponent in this election says he wants to end tax credits for wind energy, wind energy producers that make all this possible. He’s called these sources of energy “imaginary”; his new running mate has called them a “fad”.
I think a lot of folks in Iowa would disagree, because wind farms like this and the good jobs that are down in Newton, they’re not a “fad” and they’re not “imaginary.” Seventy-five thousand jobs across this country depend on wind energy; 7,000 jobs in Iowa alone. That’s more than in any other state. These are good, American jobs. And thanks to the hard work of the folks who have these jobs, Iowa generates about 20 percent of its electricity from wind -- energy that powers homes and businesses and factories all across the state.
Over the past four years, we’ve doubled the amount of electricity America can generate from wind -- from 25 gigawatts to 50 gigawatts. And to put that in perspective, that’s like building 12 new Hoover Dams that are powering homes all across the country. We doubled the amount of electricity we generate from solar energy, too. And combined, these energy sources are enough power to make sure that 13 million homes have reliable power and support the paychecks that help more than 100,000 Americans provide for their families.
That’s not imaginary. That is real. And that’s what’s at stake in November. Thirty-seven thousand American jobs are on the line if the wind energy tax credit is allowed to expire like my opponent thinks they should. And unlike Governor Romney, I want to stop giving $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies that have rarely been more profitable so that we can keep investing in homegrown energy sources like wind that have never been more promising. That’s part of the choice in this election.
We can listen to folks who want to take us backwards by doubling down on the same economic policies that got us into a fix several years ago and that we’re still fighting out of. Or we can keep moving forward to a future with more good, American jobs, more sources of homegrown, American energy, greater energy independence, and cleaner, safer environments for our kids.
And I think it was interesting talking to Jeff. He described how these wind farms got started, and what you had was all the neighboring farms coming together and essentially forming a cooperative. And folks who had these windmills on their land, on their property, recognized that, look, that was going to have an impact on folks who might not. And so everybody in this area, whether they’ve got a wind farm or not, helps benefit -- or is benefiting from the economics of this wind energy.
And that’s an example of what America is about. We believe in free enterprise, we believe in hard work. The Heil family is an example of that. But we also believe in neighborliness and working together for the common good. And as a consequence of their foresight and their creativity, and with the help of these wind energy tax credits, every farmer, every landowner in this area, is benefiting. And all of us are benefiting from clean, American energy.
So I hope we continue to promote this kind of energy. I know the Heil family does, too. And my expectation is, is that over the next several years, in the same way that we’ve doubled wind energy in the past, we’re going to keep on doubling it in the future.
Thanks very much, everybody.
3:01 P.M. CDT