Proposed federal wind regulations would benefit Kansas

? A federal renewable energy standard would produce thousands of jobs in Kansas, environmentalists said Tuesday.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and 22 other governors have urged President Barack Obama and Congress to approve a requirement that utilities provide 20 percent of electricity from renewable sources, such as wind, by 2030.

A federal renewable energy standard “would transform our Kansas economy,” said Nancy Jackson, executive director of the Climate and Energy Project of the Salina-based Land Institute.

According to a U.S. Department of Energy study, a renewable energy standard of 20 percent would produce 11,000 construction jobs in the western portion of the state, more than 1,800 long-term jobs, $20 million in payments to landowners, and $20 million to counties where the wind turbines would be located.

Emil Ramirez, of United Steelworkers, a member of the Kansas Blue Green Alliance, said the proposal would “put Kansans back to work.”

He added, “Every wind turbine requires hundreds of yards of concrete, miles of steel re-bar, copper wire and electrical connections, and skilled labor to install it all.”

The bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition has urged Obama and Congress to enact the renewable energy standard as a way to create jobs, reduce dependence on foreign oil and help the environment.

In Kansas, Sebelius has called for a 20 percent renewable energy portfolio by 2020, but the proposal has been weakened and put in a bill that would allow the construction of two 700-megawatt coal-burning power plants — a project that Sebelius has repeatedly vetoed.

State lawmakers are expected to debate the coal-burning plants later this week.