As part of Greenpeace’s international day of action, a Lawrence-based event focused on a very local issue: Kansas’s potential for wind energy and its heavy reliance on burning fossil fuels.
In conjunction with the United Nation’s climate talks in Poznan, Poland, this month, Greenpeace groups across the country and world gathered to urge leaders to take immediate action to stop global warming.
Saturday’s event at Kansas University’s Ecumenical Christian Ministries was host to about 30 people and seven speakers, many of whom referenced Sunflower Electric Power Corp.’s battle with the state to build two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas.
After Health and Environment Secretary Rod Bremby denied the plants more than a year ago, the issues has been a contentious one among Kansas lawmakers. As part of his decision, Bremby cited concerns over potential carbon dioxide emissions and global warming.
“This decision will impact discussions on energy policy for the rest of my life,” said Scott Allegrucci, who is director of the Great Plains Alliance for Clean Energy.
While wind energy isn’t the “silver bullet” solution, Allegrucci said the state has to move away from its dependence on coal. Right now, about 74 percent of the state’s energy comes from coal and around 2 percent from wind, according to Eileen Horn with the Climate and Energy Project.
The Climate and Energy Project, which is under Salina-based The Land Institute, has proposed an energy portfolio that would have wind, solar and hydroelectricity make up 20 percent of the state’s energy sources and another 10 percent saved from energy efficiency by the year 2020.
“Then we can significantly back off of coal,” Horn said.
Dan Nagengast, with the Kansas Rural Center, listed five ways Kansas could bring more wind energy to the state:
• Build a renewable energy portfolio.
• Implement effective net metering laws.
• Create tax credits for renewable energy projects.
• Allow schools to own and profit from building wind turbines.
• Encourage community-based and environmentally based economic development.
Right now, Kansas is ranked third in the country in its potential to harness wind energy.
“How we develop that has a lot to do with if Kansas remains a good place to live 50 to 100 years from now,” Nagengast said.