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Iowa State Representative Dan Kelley: Investing in America's Future

State Representative Dan Kelley reflects on President Obama's visit to Newton, IA and how clean energy jobs have impacted his community.
President Barack Obama at TPI Composites Iowa’s wind turbine blade facility (May 24, 2012)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks urging Congress to act on the “To Do List” and highlighting the need to invest in clean energy by passing legislation, at TPI Composites Iowa’s wind turbine blade facility in Newton, Iowa, May 24, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Last week, President Barack Obama visited TPI Composites, a wind manufacturer in Newton, Iowa. In Newton, he highlighted the need to invest in clean energy by passing legislation that will extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) to support American jobs and manufacturing in the wind industry alongside an expansion of the 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit that supports American-made clean energy manufacturing.

Iowa State Representative Dan Kelley, who represents Newton, reflects on the President’s visit and how clean energy jobs have impacted Newton: 

As President Obama spoke yesterday, I took a good look around the room.  I saw friends and neighbors since childhood.   Listening intently were families that have built quality products for generations.  A few rows back, I saw a local community college graduate excited about his new welding job.   And at the front of the audience, I saw a 90 year-old veteran proud to see the Commander-in-Chief visit our town.  It was an uplifting day for Newton.

Frankly, we deserve a day like yesterday.   Five years ago, Maytag appliance manufacturing jobs ended.  A seemingly inseparable 114 year relationship between company and community was severed.  That day could have devastated us. But as the President told us, “All of you didn’t give up.  You kept pushing ahead…And now a lot of the folks who used to build washers and dryers are building the clean energy products of the future.  That’s the story of Newton.”  Thanks to opportunities in the wind and biodiesel industries, Newton’s workers are confidently returning to the work we do best, building quality products.  That’s how Newton’s middle-class families have always made-ends-meet.  They’ve changed their collars from blue to green.  And now, every day, they help ensure national energy-security and a healthy environment. 

President Obama presented his “To Do List” for Congress.  An item on this list is extension of the effective wind-production tax credit.  Unless Congress agrees to the extension, “companies like this one will take a hit,” local workers right along with it.

The wind production tax credit provides a 2.2 percent per kilowatt-hour credit for the first ten years of electricity production from utility-scale wind-turbines, like those built in Newton.  The production tax credit has repeatedly been allowed to sunset and then extended since original enactment.  This has caused a boom-bust cycle of development that has challenged the wind industry.   The credit is set to expire at the end of the year putting jobs at risk and progress on hold.

We want our wind and biofuel industries to grow, bringing more jobs back to our factory floors.  Congress must complete the ‘To Do List’ and give Newton’s middle class families a chance to succeed.  The President agrees with us, the best chapters to our story are yet to be written.  But Congress must put politics aside and act on our behalf now.

Find out more about the President’s To-Do List for Congress and read the President’s speech from Newton.

Michael Block is an Associate Director in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs