Veterans Finding New Job Opportunities In Iowa’s Growing Wind, Solar Industries

Virtual Panel – November 13, 2020

Legislators, economic development officials, educators and utility representatives joined a virtual event to celebrate Veterans Day, and discuss how Iowa-made renewable energy is providing stable, well-paid career opportunities for veterans. The U.S. wind industry hires veterans at a 61% higher rate than average U.S. industries, while the solar industry employs more than 19,000 veterans. Joining the event were U.S. Senate staff, local elected officials, the Iowa Utilities Association, the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, the Center for Rural Affairs and a variety of industry representatives.

Watch a recording of the panel discussion here.

Moderator: Jeff Danielson, Central Region Director, American Wind Energy Association


  • State Representative John Wills
  • Beth Townsend, Director, Iowa Workforce Development
  • Dan Lutat, Director of Government Affairs/Special Projects, Iowa Lakes Community College
  • Ryan Craig, Senior Operations Manager, Alliant Energy

Renewable Energy: Building American Industry and Iowa’s Future

Virtual Panel – October 28, 2020

Economic development officials, wind and solar supply chain companies, and local academics joined a virtual panel to highlight the growth of Iowa’s wind and solar energy manufacturing. The discussion centered around how the two renewable sectors have the potential to create jobs and grow the state’s economy during post-COVID-19 recovery efforts. Iowa has seen significant growth in renewable energy development in recent years, which has resulted in nearly 11,000 Iowans employed in part by the 21 wind and solar manufacturing facilities located in the state. However, panelists noted continued growth will rely on an expanded and modernized Midwest electricity grid, as new and upgraded transmission lines will be necessary to bring low-cost wind and solar projects online and create new economic opportunity.

Joining the event were legislators, county and city officials, journalists, and the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.

Watch a recording of the panel discussion here.

Moderator:  Chaz Allen, Executive Director, Iowa Utilities Association


  • Brian Selinger, Team Lead, Iowa Energy Office, Iowa Economic Development Authority
  • Josh Syhlman, General Manager, TPI Composites
  • Doug Hundt, President, Industrial Solutions, Vermeer
  • James McCalley, Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and head of IGERT: Wind Energy, Science, Engineering, and Policy (WESEP) Program, Iowa State University

Audubon, Iowa

August 15, 2018

Central Iowa Power Cooperative and NextEra Energy Resources celebrated the groundbreaking of Heartland Divide, the newest wind farm in Iowa. CIPCO includes 13 electrical co-ops in 58 counties, and Heartland Divide is its biggest project to date. There are nearly 200 construction jobs associated with the project. Local officials and company executives offered remarks.

  • NextEra Energy Resources
  • Central Iowa Power Cooperative

Everly, Iowa

August 6, 2018

Alliant Energy and the American Wind Energy Association hosted Sen. Chuck Grassley to present him with a Wind Champion award for his long-standing support of American wind power. As the “grandfather” of the federal production tax credit, the primary incentive for wind power development, Grassley helped spur wind farms and a supply chain in his state that now employ more than 7,000 Iowans.

The Senator also toured Alliant’s Upland Prairie Wind Farm, which is currently under construction near Everly.

Fairfield, Iowa

November 1, 2017

On November 1, Governor Kim Reynolds and Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg visited Ideal Energy in Fairfield, Iowa and met with staff and CEOs Mary Sundblad (Stuff Etc.) and Jennifer Steffensmeier (Steffensmeier Manufacturing) to discuss their investments in solar energy and how they are able to use the savings to reinvest in their employees and the communities they serve.

The event started with a tour of Ideal Energy and a discussion about the benefits of solar to Iowa businesses and jobs. The group then visited a solar installation located on a former brownfield site for a tour. Ideal Energy is a veteran-owned business that employs 30 people.