Recent attempts to repeal Kansas’ “renewable portfolio standards” (RPS) just don’t make economic sense. Wind is the main contributor to renewable energy here in Kansas. The Kansas Department of Commerce reports that Kansas has the second highest wind generating capacity in our Nation and is ideally located to export wind energy. KDC goes on to say, “A Kansas location offers companies in the wind supply chain ideal access to the new Siemens nacelle plant and numerous other manufacturers in the region.”
At least $7 billion dollars have already been invested in wind energy and created 13,000 direct and indirect jobs here in Kansas. Each 150 MW wind farm pays landowners at least $600,000 annually and the host county $500,000 in “payments in lieu of taxes”. The total contribution to Kansas amounts to $13 million dollars to landowners and $10 million dollars in donations to counties every year. This is important to rural main streets and county governments.
Assertions that wind energy causes huge rate increases are flat wrong. The $30.7 million Westar rate increase last year was to pay for retrofitting the coal-burning LaCygne power plant to meet environmental regulations protecting public health. According to the March 16th edition of the Great Bend Tribune, Westar’s recent $43.6 million rate increase is to bring wind power onto the grid, increase reliability and handle transmission between states. A $50 million Westar rate increase proposal in 2012 was partly to ensure a 10% shareholder profit. In 2008, Westar proposed an almost 15% rate increase partly to fund new natural gas generators.
Assertions that wind energy is just “too expensive” are, again, flat wrong. The Kansas Corporation Commission reports that, “Comparisons of levelized costs of generation indicate that the cost of wind is less than new coal, new natural gas, and new nuclear generation.”
Finally, the Kansas Corporation Commission estimates that wind energy has raised utility rates less than one fourth of a penny... a small price for increased reliability of transmission systems, cleaner energy and more diversified drought-proof income for western Kansas.