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Presidential Candidates and Congress Challenged to Support a National Renewable Portfolio Standard

Iowa Governor Chet Culver and American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) President Bob Gates challenged the 2008 presidential candidates and Congressional Leadership to support a national renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in the 2007 Energy Bill currently before congress.

"First, I encourage the U.S. Congress to pass a comprehensive Energy Bill - and to ensure a strong Renewable Portfolio is part of it," said Governor Culver "Second, today I issue a challenge. I call on each of the 2008 presidential candidates of both parties to commit to a National Renewable Portfolio Standard calling for at least 15 percent of our electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020."

The national effort would create thousands of high-quality manufacturing jobs, save consumers approximately $100 billion in energy costs, create billions of dollars in economic development and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil.

"By committing to a renewable energy economy, our next president could address American energy security, job security and environmental security all at the same time," said Governor Culver. "I call on all of the 2008 presidential candidates of both parties, as well as our leaders in congress, to support the new American renewable energy economy and a clean, more secure future for our children. If we are to effectively address energy security, job creation and climate change issues in the United States, a national approach with federal leadership is critical."

A national RPS goal would spur economic development, especially in rural areas. It is estimated that approximately $1.5 million in economic activity is generated for every utility-scale wind turbine installed. This includes roughly $100,000 in lease payments to each landowner, per turbine, over a 20-year period. Many of the beneficiaries of these lease payments are farmers, ranchers, and other rural landowners.

Embracing a new wind energy economy could also create thousands of jobs. In just the past 24 months, three major wind energy manufacturers have chosen Iowa as the place to establish their North American production facilities - Acciona, Siemens, and Clipper, and a fourth company - Hendricks - will soon begin construction of a plant in the city of Keokuk. Combined, these wind energy manufacturing plants will create almost 900 high-quality jobs. A recent report by the Sierra Club and the United Steelworkers Union showed that Iowa has the potential to create 5,193 new wind energy manufacturing jobs in the state.

A study by Wood MacKenzie, a nationally-respected energy research firm, concludes that American consumers could save approximately $100 billion in energy costs, due to decreased demand and costs for natural gas and coal.

Iowa is the renewable energy capital of the United States. Iowa ranks first in the nation in the production of ethanol, second in biodiesel and third in wind energy. As of today, 8.4 percent of Iowa's electricity is developed from renewable sources. Currently, Iowa has more than 1,000 wind turbines in operation statewide, capable of producing over 1,000 MW. This is enough electricity to power more than 250,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by nearly three-and-a-half billion tons per year. Governor Culver set a goal for Iowa to generate 2,015 MW of electricity from wind power by the year 2015.

"Iowa's strong wind and workforce make the state an attractive place to install wind turbines and manufacture all of its component parts: the towers, the blades and the turbines," said Governor Culver. "Iowa currently ranks third in the U.S. in wind energy production, and the potential for the industry in Iowa is very bright. A recent study projects that, within a 600 mile radius of Iowa, $3.2 billion dollars in wind generation projects will be constructed each year over the next seven years. That equals $22.4 billion in new economic development potential for the region."

Twenty-two U.S. states, including Iowa, have enacted a RPS.

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