Iowa Going Green: What Does It Mean for 2016?

Could new wind energy projects influence votes?

What if Iowa became one of the greenest energy states in the U.S? What would that mean for the presidential elections in 2016?

That was a very intriguing question raised by a commentator for Business Insider, who pointed out that Iowa is headed towards drawing roughly 50 percent of its electric energy from wind power by 2015. Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy project made a deal with the German electric giant Siemens to buy 448 wind turbines, which will double the percentage of Iowa’s wind-generated electricity, according to Business Insider. It’s the largest capital investment project in Iowa’s history, reports USA Today. Considering that the total percentage of electricity generated from wind in the U.S. was below 4 percent in 2012, 50 percent is a huge amount. Even 25 percent swamps the average.

Now add the fact that Facebook is building a data center in Iowa that is slated to be completely powered by wind, and the fact that these energy projects will produce construction and permanent jobs, and you get a situation where renewable energy will certainly impact Iowa’s economic future—and potentially votes in 2016.

Now comes the interesting part. What happens when politicians flock to the state seeking support for the 2016 elections? Can they say they were proud that certain energy tax breaks, such as a credit for wind farms, expired in December? Will they embrace green energy? Will wind energy in Iowa—a sought-after swing state—bring a breath of fresh air to Iowa politics?

You know what? We may not have to wait for the main event in 2016. Perhaps we’ll get a whiff of which way the wind is blowing this year, come November.

Meet the Writer

About Ira Flatow

Ira Flatow is the host and executive producer of Science Friday. His green thumb has revived many an office plant at death’s door.