Aug 08 2018
COURTENAY, N.D. - U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp – during American Wind Week – was presented with the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Wind Champion Award at Geronimo’s wind farm near Courtenay.
The CEO of AWEA presented Heitkamp with the award. They were joined by representatives from Geronimo Energy, Xcel Energy, and members of the Courtenay Community Fund Board. They also commemorated the first gifts of the Courtenay Community Fund which were dispersed to a variety of local charitable organizations in the spring of 2018.
Heitkamp received the award for her years of support and advocacy to boost wind energy jobs and production throughout North Dakota and the country, and specifically her work which was instrumental to successfully extending a critical wind energy tax credit. In 2015, Congress passed a deal Heitkamp negotiated and made possible to lift the 40 year-old ban on exporting oil while also providing a long-term extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) to expand wind energy development – both of which she had long advocated for. Prior to her work to secure lasting PTC support, hundreds of wind energy workers were laid off nationwide, including in North Dakota. Now that more certainty has been restored across the industry, in large part because of Heitkamp’s efforts, North Dakota has seen huge increases in wind energy production and jobs.
In fact, North Dakota is the No. 1 state in the nation in 2017 for wind energy jobs per capita. This translates into thousands of wind jobs in North Dakota that support families and powers businesses that is critical to growing the economy. And a recent report from Navigant Consulting found that American wind energy will drive over $85 billion in economic activity in the next four years and employ almost 250,000 workers across the country – and this growth is in large part due to Heitkamp’s work to extend wind tax credits.
“North Dakota is an example of what can happen when you harness a true all-of-the-above energy strategy, which includes renewable energies like wind that supports thousands of good jobs across our state while powering homes and businesses here and in states across the region,” said Heitkamp. “I’m proud to have worked to successfully extend the wind energy tax credit back in 2015 to support wind energy development and jobs across our state, and it’s an honor to receive this award today. Wind energy is one of many resources I’ll continue to advocate for. But the ones really who deserve to be acknowledged are those who go to work manufacturing the turbines, constructing the wind farms, and maintaining the wind energy supply and of course the farmers and ranchers who host these turbines on their land. The energy that is produced in North Dakota powers communities both rural and urban, and if it wasn’t for rural communities stepping up, we would not be as energy secure as we are today. That’s why I wake up every day thinking of rural America and what we can do in the U.S. Senate to make sure these communities thrive.”
This visit continues Heitkamp’s strong record of supporting renewable energy businesses by visiting and speaking firsthand with workers on the ground. In April 2017, she visited LM Wind in Grand Forks to reinforce the importance of supporting wind energy development. In July 2016, she attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Xcel Energy’s Border Wind Farm. In April 2015, Heitkamp toured Fargo’s 70-year-old Ulteig Engineers to discuss the direly needed build-out of North Dakota’s energy infrastructure with a particular focus on providing certainty to wind energy industry workers. In January 2014, Heitkamp toured Iberdrola Wind Farm near Rugby and in May 2013, Heitkamp attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Bison Wind Energy Center near New Salem. She also visited an Otter Tail Power Company and NextEra Energy Resources wind farm near Edgeley in October 2014.