New gusts of power for Kansas wind industry
The Kansas City Star
Four years ago former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius repeatedly promoted the notion that her state had the potential to become the “Saudi Arabia of wind power.”
In 2012, that boast is getting closer to coming true.
And it’s doing so — surprise — with the welcome backing of Republican leaders such as Gov. Sam Brownback and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran. Both have emerged as boosters of the wind industry even while many in the GOP wrongly decry its government subsidies.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, Kansas is on pace to lead the nation in the amount of renewable wind energy scheduled to come on line this year. The group estimates that almost 1,200 megawatts of new energy will be available from up to eight wind power projects opening in 2012.
By comparison, the proposed Sunflower Electric coal-fired plant expansion in western Kansas would supply just under 900 megawatts. And the Iatan coal-fired plants that supply electricity to much of the Kansas City area generate around 1,500 megawatts.
Building power plants is one thing; getting power from them to points east in Kansas and Missouri is another. A big step forward occurred late last year when the Kansas Corporation Commission approved Clean Line Energy Partners to do business in the state. The company hopes to build a $2 billion, 700-mile transmission line from western Kansas to Indiana.
As the wind industry in Kansas gets to be good business that means jobs are being created. And that helps explain why Brownback and Moran are speaking up to expand it in Kansas and to retain the wind energy production tax credit in Congress.
Moran properly notes that a renewed tax credit would help build confidence in more construction of this alternative form of clean energy.
Brownback praises the highly skilled and permanent jobs that are needed to build and operate wind energy projects. The governor is proud that “Kansas has world-class wind energy.”
While that might not be as catchy as calling Kansas the “Saudi Arabia of wind power,” Brownback deserves credit for backing important progress in diversifying the sources of electricity for hundreds of thousands of residents.