Cite Benefits to the State and Communities During American Wind Week
Panel during American Wind Week highlights Kansas’ position as a leader in wind energy development, opportunities for the state’s workforce, and the many ways wind is building the future
Topeka, KS – Kansas is once again in the spotlight for its wind energy leadership, as Governor Laura Kelly issued a statewide proclamation announcing this week as American Wind Week. Ranked second in the nation for its share of electricity coming from wind, Kansas wind power has become a driving force in the state’s economy. State and industry leaders had plenty to celebrate during American Wind Week and took part in a virtual panel discussing the many ways wind is helping build the future in Kansas.
“It’s been an exciting time to be a legislator, the last 14 years, during Kansas’ wind energy expansion,” said State Senator Elaine Bowers. “The Wind Energy Program at Cloud County Community College was first of its kind in the United States, with the director even learning hands-on himself at a wind farm on an internship and teaching what he learned as no textbooks existed at that time.”
Wind projects have spurred more than $11.4 billion in capital investments in the state, providing unparalleled opportunities for workforce expansion and economic growth.
Randi Tveitaraas Jack, Manager of International Development for the Kansas Department of Commerce, serves as the renewable energy contact for the agency and participated in the American Wind Week panel. Tveitaraas Jack reflected on the growth of the wind industry in Kansas and cited how the energy source has been vital for the attraction of new businesses in the state.
“I’ve been watching the Kansas wind energy industry grow for 30 years,” stated Tveitaraas Jack. “As a leader in wind energy, Kansas offers an ideal location for companies that are committed to meeting corporate sustainability goals by powering their facilities through renewable energy. From what we’ve seen and what we look to in the future, there’s been a significant impact on the Kansas economy and workforce opportunities already. Wind energy continues to offer a bright future for the state.”
Wind projects generate $29 million in revenue for state and local governments, and many communities in Kansas are benefiting from wind energy, including two notable examples in Ford and Pratt Counties.
Joann Knight, Executive Director of the Dodge City/Ford County Development Corporation, explained how a rural community can rally around the growth of wind projects.
“Dodge City is the world’s largest beef processing community and now we can say also that we are the state’s county that has the most turbines out there and we hope to see that continue to grow,” said Knight. “It’s a natural resource that we’ve really been able to build our community on and build our diversity and our economy. We are very proud of the economy that the wind industry has brought here and really hope to continue to grow that.”
The wind industry supports 6,000 jobs in Kansas, including jobs in the field and at several manufacturing facilities in the state.
“The director of the wind energy program recently told me, ‘Electricity is essential. These jobs are not going away. The wind energy program at CCCC produces these future employees for the industry as fast as we can,’” Senator Bowers explained. “We’re training the best kids right now to do this job. It’s an exciting industry and I’m glad to be right here in the middle of this whole process.”
Farmers also benefit from having wind turbines as a part of their landscape with $36 million in annual land lease payments provided by wind projects in 2019 alone.
“When a wind farm moves into a community, we give a sustainable, consistent payment to a landowner for 25-plus years,” stated Trish Williams, Senior Field Coordinator at Enel Green Power. “There’s hardly any other industry that can claim that. We’re not only investing in a wind farm; we’re investing in our community. We’re investing in our people in Kansas, we’re investing in our kids, we’re investing in our future.”
As competition increases and wind power takes on a larger role in the economy, the need for new investments in transmission and future infrastructure projects has never been greater, explained Chris Weatherford, Director of Project Management for Construction and Engineering at Apex Clean Energy.
“With growing customer demand for clean energy, the existing network is becoming stressed, especially when we look to the regional movement of power,” Weatherford added. “By ensuring the new investments in transmission with these projects we can ensure that states like Kansas, which possess wonderful wind resources, will play a key role in the clean energy future and help deliver a variety of benefits to Kansas and its economy.”
To set up an interview with any of the panelists, please contact Jesse Dougherty at [email protected] or (608) 807-8619.
Boost Kansas has been sharing highlights and other content on Facebook and Twitter. Follow along and join in the conversation by using #AmericanWindWeek and #WindBuildsTheFuture.
About Boost Kansas
Boost Kansas, an initiative of the American Wind Energy Association, is a statewide coalition of civic and business leaders supporting innovative policies that expand renewable and wind energy investment in the state. With commonsense federal and state policies, Kansas can continue to be a national leader in harnessing the power of wind and renewable energy development. Learn more at BoostKansas.com.
About the American Wind Energy Association
AWEA is the national trade association for the U.S. wind industry, the largest source of renewable energy in the country. We represent 1,000 member companies, 120,000 jobs in the U.S. economy, and a nationwide workforce located across all 50 states. AWEA serves as a powerful voice for how wind works for America. Members include global leaders in wind power and energy development, turbine manufacturing, and component and service suppliers. They gather each year at the Western Hemisphere’s most efficient and targeted event for utility-scale renewable companies, the AWEA CLEANPOWER Conference & Exhibition, next in Indianapolis, June 7-10, 2021. An outgrowth of the AWEA WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition, CLEANPOWER is the first trade show focused exclusively on the utility-scale renewable power sector, bringing together all the major developers, utilities, OEMs, suppliers, and buyers under one roof. Visit AWEA’s website to learn more about the enormous economic benefits wind power brings to America and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.