An economic analysis released Friday by the law firm Polsinelli Shughart in partnership with the Kansas Energy Information Network analysis estimated that Kansas wind energy projects have created nearly 13,500 jobs in the state.
The findings were announced during a forum in Newton. Present were was business leaders from across the state wanting to hear about the impact of the 19 wind energy projects now operating in Kansas.
The jobs numbers include 263 operation and maintenance jobs and 3,484 construction jobs. The rest are indirect jobs created by the industry. The report also said wind generation has yielded revenue of more than $273 million for landowners and more than $208 million for local governments and community groups.
This is interesting information in light of a proposed project that could hit close to home.
Clean Line Energy Partners based out of Houston, Texas, is in the process of developing four multi-billion-dollar power transmission lines to meet growing needs of the wind industry. One of those, the Grain Belt Express, will pass through Barton County.
The line will deliver 3,500 megawatts of wind energy from Ford County in western Kansas to communities in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and points farther east that have strong demand. The energy will be transported via an approximately 700-mile overhead, high-voltage direct current transmission line at a cost of about $2 million per mile.
Company officials said the work will bring an influx of people to the area, including 5,000 temporary constructions jobs and 500 permanent operational jobs, with some of those folks possibly coming from Barton County. There is also the possibility that some vendors might come from the county as well.
And, Clear Line will pay for any improvements to county roads that it needs.
It would be easy to dismiss the study’s objectivity seeing how it was funded in part by the Kansas Energy Information Network, but the numbers are intriguing.
Whether one supports the explosion of wind turbines across Kansas or not, Barton County stands to be on the forefront of the booming wind power expansion. If this analysis published Friday is any indication, we could be in a position to reap benefits from alternative energy without a whole lot of risk.