As the Kansas Energy Office hosts its seventh annual Renewable Energy Conference, members of The Wind Coalition are developing wind projects that will bring the state’s total of clean, renewable energy to 1,000MW by the year’s end.“Wind energy is a clean, renewable resource in abundant supply along the Midwestern Plains,” said Paul Sadler, executive director of The Wind Coalition, based in Austin, Texas. “Reducing our nation’s reliance on foreign energy requires a continuing commitment to the development of renewable resources like wind, which is economically viable and environmentally friendly.”
According to the Kansas Corporation Commission, Kansas could develop as much as 7,100 MW of wind energy by 2030 – a number five times what would be achieved under governor Kathleen Sebelius’ 20% objective by 2020.
“Kansas ranks third among the states in wind energy potential, and it’s critical for the Sunflower State to tap into this tremendous homegrown resource,” said Randall Swisher, Executive Director of the American Wind Energy Association. “As the U.S. looks to obtain 20% of its electricity from wind by 2030, Kansas is discovering that it has a key role to play in our nation’s new energy economy. The visionary leadership of governor Sebelius is opening doors for Kansans to reap local economic and environmental benefits as it becomes a clean energy powerhouse for the country.”
The Wind Coalition says by 2030, the estimated royalties would be about $20 million annually, and tax revenue would be approximately $19 million annually. During the construction phase, wind energy would employ roughly 11,000 workers with a payroll of $1.35 billion. It says after becoming operational, the wind energy industry would create about 1,800 long term jobs and bring at least $152 million annually to local economies.
Industry organizations such as the Southwest Power Pool and other government agencies have suggested a target of 8,000 to 10,000 MW that Kansas could contribute to the national goal of relying upon wind energy for 20% of the nation’s power needs by 2030. Of that, Kansas might use 3,000 MW for itself and export the rest to other states.
“Kansas has a far greater wind resource than it can use, so there is a tremendous opportunity to build out more wind energy to export to other markets,” said Sadler. “Market and transmission constraints would limit the number of wind power deals that get done in Kansas long before the state runs out of areas to develop good wind power projects.”
The Wind Coalition cites other benefits: royalty payments received by landowners allow for farms and ranches to remain in the family for coming generations and stimulates greater crop diversification and better farming/ ranching practices; communities share in a new sense of rejuvenation and pride as new money flows through the local economy propelling new and existing business and industry; and if Kansas were to attract a turbine manufacturing facility, further significant job growth and additions to the state coffers could be expected.
While wind energy is an infinite resource for Kansas, the competition for wind power development with neighboring states is fierce. The Wind Coalition hopes to work with policymakers to help Kansas take advantage of its vast natural resource and future economic engine.
“Kansas is uniquely situated right in the middle of the central wind corridor that has the potential to transform our nation’s energy policy,” said Sadler. “If Midwestern states develop their wind potential, and Congress invests in needed transmission capacity, a new era of energy independence will emerge from the farms and fields of our nation’s heartland.”
The Wind Coalition is a non-profit association formed to encourage the development of the vast wind energy resources of the south central United States.
The Wind Coalition is active in two particular regions: ERCOT and SPP. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the electric transmission grid covering most of Texas. The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) grid covers all or parts of seven states: Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.