Editorial: A blow to wind power

State legislators shouldn’t hastily throw out renewable energy standards that have helped build the wind energy industry in Kansas.

March 25, 2014


Doing away with the Kansas renewable energy standards could have a devastating effect on the state’s growing wind energy industry.

Nonetheless, the Senate Utilities Committee voted last week to repeal those standards and, as one senator put it, “let business do its thing.” The committee gutted an already approved House bill and replaced it with the repeal measure, meaning that the action could be approved by both houses of the Legislature without ever facing a public hearing that might reveal valid drawbacks to the bill.

The renewable energy portfolio standards (RPS) were passed in 2009 and would require major utility companies in the state to generate 20 percent of their energy through renewable sources by 2020. The impact of the standards was almost immediate. Since 2009, according to the Kansas Energy Information Network, at least a dozen wind farms have gone online in Kansas, creating construction jobs and new capital investment in the state. Passage of the standards, which signified the state’s commitment to wind power, also helped attract investment from wind generation industries, such as Siemens, which manufactures giant wind turbine nacelles at its plant in Hutchinson.

Critics blame the standards for increased electrical rates in Kansas, but wind energy advocates cite Kansas Corporation Commission figures that indicate the RPS has almost no impact on the state’s electrical rates, which more often seem to be driven by the need to upgrade or expand coal-fired plants. Kansas electric companies, such as WestarEnergy, are on track to meet the renewable energy standards.

There seems to be little doubt that the standards helped kick-start the wind energy business in Kansas, one of about 30 states with RPS laws. Some state legislators apparently see the RPS as an impediment to free enterprise in the state, but the standards have helped support a growing industry that takes advantage of a clean, renewable and abundant natural resource in Kansas: the wind.

Legislators shouldn’t risk jeopardizing those advances — especially without even opening the issue to public discussion before passing the repeal.


Larry Sturm 4 years, 2 months ago

They don't want an open public discussion on renewable energy because they work for the Koch brothers

Michael LoBurgio 4 years, 2 months ago

Wind grows as power source in Kansas

After installing the second most new wind capacity in the United States in 2013, following on the third most in 2012, Kansas has blown past a number of states in its percentage of electricity generated from wind.

Based on its potential, however, the state has a long way to go.

Wind generation record

According to the latest data from the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, Kansas utilities received 19.4 percent of their total electrical generation from wind power in 2013.

That ranked Kansas third nationally, behind only Iowa and South Dakota, which had 27 and 26 percent, respectively. The state’s goal was 20 percent by 2020.

Other states with at least 15 percent of their generation from wind included Idaho, North Dakota and Minnesota. In all, at least 20 states had some generation from wind, with 17 matching or beating the new national average of 4 percent.

“Wind energy continues to make inroads as a major contributor to the U.S. power mix,” Elizabeth Salerno, vice president of Industry Data and Analysis for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), stated in a news release. “The electricity generated by American wind power has more than tripled since 2008, not only due to significant growth in new wind projects but also technology innovation leading to more productive wind turbines.”


Michael LoBurgio 4 years, 2 months ago

Kansas ALEC-Affiliated Legislator Leads Charge to Repeal Renewable Energy Standard

Here in the Midwest we are seeing the perennial first signs of Spring: a few early buds are appearing on the magnolia trees, rivers and lakes are starting to thaw, and of course, ALEC and the Koch brothers are pushing yet another pointless and harmful attack on Kansas’s wildly successful Renewable Energy Standard.

This year’s bill, Senate Bill 433, is sponsored by the Kansas Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means, which is chaired by Ty Masterson, a known ALEC member and supporter of last year’s failed attack on renewable energy policy in Kansas.

Operating and proposed wind farms in Kansas. Graphic credit: Kansas Energy Information Network

It is difficult to understand why these attacks on job-creating, investment-spurring, clean energy policies continue to pop up every spring like weeds in a (solar) garden. After all, the policy has helped to spur over $7 billion in new investment in the state and create 13,000 jobs in an otherwise struggling economy.

So it is no wonder that 91 percent of Kansans support doing more with clean energy and more than two-thirds would support increasing the Renewable Energy Standard from its current goal of 20 percent renewables to 25 percent by 2020.

Kansas is a major renewables powerhouse—literally. It has the second best wind resource in the country with the technical potential to supply enough electricity to supply all of the state’s energy more than 90 times over. The state already produces enough electricity from wind to power more than 840,000 American households, and Kansas is just beginning to scratch the surface of what can be done with solar power. That means Kansas wind provides more than enough electricity to meet the needs of the combined populations of Kansas City, Wichita, Topeka, Omaha, Nebraska and Tulsa, OK and still have enough left over for Minneapolis!


Jeff Messick 4 years, 2 months ago

Look at who is opposing renewable energy getting any support. ALEX (Koch brothers), Kansas Chamber (Koch brothers), and Americans for Prosperity (Koch brothers). What is the core business of Koch industries ... oil and gas. Who currently has 2 million acres of tar sand ground under lease in Canada? The Koch brothers. Gee, is there a trend here?

BTW, are these same voices asking to remove the various tax breaks and gimmes that big oil receives? Where's the let the free market sort it out sentiment there?

Peebles Squire 4 years, 2 months ago

Kansans see the value in reliable, affordable wind energy in their state. It’s no wonder you’re able to export this innovative energy source to those nearby who need it.

By extending the Production Tax Credit and making sure the RPS stays in place, we can ensure that Kansas will continue to reap the benefits of new wind projects, promoting economic development and diversifying the tax base, especially in rural areas.

Kansas is already an important hub for American wind energy, and with up to 72 percent of a wind turbine’s value now made-in-the-USA, we can safely say the Sunflower State is helping to build a new manufacturing sector, producing a homegrown energy source for the whole country.

Wind power is increasingly cost-competitive, and with prices that have declined 43 percent in four years, consumers are seeing just how affordable wind energy can be. In Kansas, wind power has helped utilities provide some of the most affordable electricity in the country.

Wind energy is good for ratepayers, clean, reliable, and – most importantly – is keeping the lights on for Kansans and Americans across the country. The RPS is a massive success story, one that should keep on going.

For more information on wind power, visit www.awea.org

Peebles Squire AWEA

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

What is the core business of Koch industries?

Profits helps surrogates and lobbyists for corporations to draft and promote state bills behind closed doors which is likely in violation of the Open Meetings Act: In essence ALEC

  • wages war on women

• guts environmental laws

• creates a regressive tax system

• eliminates workers’ rights = lower wages

• undermine's universal and affordable health care

• wages war on public education

• wages war on voting rights.


United States of ALEC http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/27/the_united_states_of_alec_bill

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