Here’s the chain of events on this one: Warren Buffett, about two weeks ago, spent $1 billion (through his utility company, MidAmerican Energy Holdings) to help finance five different wind turbine projects in Iowa. That was the largest-ever order (for land-based use) in that industry’s history. The deal was seen as potentially evening the playing field between wind and coal as sources of energy, especially with a noted crack investor like Buffett getting on board. Tom Kiernan, who is the CEO of the American Wind Energy Association trade group, said this when the deal was announced:
“If Congress were to remove all the subsidies from every energy source, the wind industry can compete on its own.”
The wind energy tax credit did expire today, but wind power is a big thing — and it’s probably nowhere bigger than Iowa, which uses wind for about 25 percent of its energy right now (the solar energy market is also huge there). Interestingly, this guy Ken Hach — who you’ve probably never heard of — is the pioneer of all these things within Iowa.
This is all a long way of saying that Iowa, a state where Presidential candidates must pander and must pander early, and a “purple” state in the general election sense, is at the forefront of a lot of experimental things happening with emergent energy technology. Put two and two together and what you get is: Iowa is key to the Presidential election, and wind is key to Iowa right now, especially with this Buffett order. So… could 2016 come down to discussions about wind energy? It’d be interesting to see, since the perceived candidate in each party is a Northeast corridor person — i.e. probably not completely brushed up on the emergence of wind tech.
Consider this too: by 2015 (when the primaries start ramping up), 50 percent of Iowa’s power is going to come from wind — and one of their biggest company embeds, this Facebook data center, will be open — and be completely powered by wind.
It’s going to be a huge topic in a state that could determine who advances forward into the general. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on. Remember: it was all Clinton in 2008 early, then this happened in Iowa:
… if a Democratic who can speak on these issues well can pop in and get some steam off that topic, leading to more press, etc? You never know.