Thanks for the $3 billion dollar investment – but you’re not welcome here any more!

That’s the message I heard Matt Riley, CEO of Infinity Wind Power give during a Kansas Senate Utilities hearing to delay the Kansas Renewable Portfolio Standard, put into effect in 2009.

“Modifying the RPS would absolutely send a strong negative signal that would likely cripple the emerging export market,” said Matt Riley, CEO at Infinity Wind Power. “To my knowledge, not one of the 30 other states with an RPS has negatively modified or repealed that important policy. Kansas would be the first to do so, and it would send a shock-wave through our industry, saying, ‘Thank you very much for the $3 billion of investment last year, but you’re not welcome here anymore.”

Matt was one of approximately 18 opponents providing written or oral testimony during the Senate hearing to roll back the RPS.

Former Kansas Senate President Dave Kerr also testified against the bill. He said he was skeptical of the Kansas Policy Institutes projections based on his experience as chairman of the board for Kansas Ethanol. “I have good reason to watch natural gas prices,” said Kerr, who headed the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce after leaving the Senate. “Natural gas prices fluctuate. When somebody gives you an estimate that says wind prices are going to be far higher than natural gas, have they really given you a realistic projection of what natural gas could be?”

Our opposition fell on deaf ears, today the Senate Utilities committee voted to pass Senate Bill 82 out of committee and on to the full Senate.

The economic impacts of the wind industry here in Kansas are indisputable.

Jobs

According to a report by energy experts Polsinelli Shughart and the Kansas Energy Information Network, the Kansas wind industry has created more than 13,000 direct and indirect jobs, most in rural Kansas.  Approximately 3,747 jobs are directly related to the construction and operation of 19 wind projects in Kansas. Based on date from the Department of Energy, and additional 9,827 jobs were created as a result of investment in Kansas wind farms.

Community Impact and Renewable Energy Investment

  • Kansas landowners receive over $13 million dollars annually from wind turbine land rents
  • Wind developers contribute over $10 million dollars annually to Kansas communities
  • Siemens – $50 million dollar investment
  • Draka – $3 million dollar investment
  • Jupiter Group – $2.4 million dollar investment
  • Tindall and New Millennium announced – $90 million dollar investment
  • Clean Line Energy Partners announced – $2 billion dollar investment enabling an additional $7 billion dollars of new wind energy development

Thirty states have mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standards and seven states have voluntary renewable energy goals. The benefits of this policy go beyond the earning revenue for local communities, generating low-cost domestic electricity and creating jobs for Kansas residents and companies.

In today’s highly competitive effort to attract new businesses, many factors come in to play. The Kansas RPS is one visible way to demonstrate the value this state places on sustainability.  The appeal of states that value renewable energy can be seen in both wind manufacturing companies like Siemens as well as those companies who value sustainability like Google and Mars. Ed McCallum, a Senior Principal of McCallum Sweeney Consulting was recently quoted in Trade and Industry Magazine.

“Having been involved in several site searches for renewable energy companies, wind in particular, the question always arises about the finalist state’s position regarding the RPS. Many times it makes the difference between winning and losing the project”.

The Kansas Renewable Portfolio Standard is a smart way to encourage renewable energy projects, spur job growth and keep Kansas businesses competitive.

Stay tuned for more from the House Energy & Environment committee. There is a hearing for House Bill 2241 on Thursday morning to roll back the 2015 threshold and get rid of 20% renewables all together.

Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director CEP

With harvest and the 4th under our belts and what feels like the dog days upon us, one might be tempted to think we are on the downhill slide to autumn, but we still have half the summer stretching out before us. Whew! It’s gonna be a doozie.

The upshot is that all this time spent indoors and keeping cool is  a great opportunity to catch up on some reading. So check the blog over the next several days to see what gems we find in our reading!

The first comes from the Columbus Telegram in Columbus, Nebraska.

In 2013,  Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is unveiling a new green commercial energy option and is currently working on the rate schedule for this new program. Particularly exciting is that NPPD is including a commercial 100% renewable energy rate for interested customers.

Equally exciting is that the Loup Public Power District President and CEO citied customer demand as the primary push for the new green rate. It is encouraging to see utilities site customer or market demand as influencing generation choices.

This is a story we will certainly be keeping our eyes on.

posted by Kate Van Cantfort, CEP Director of Communications & Special Projects

Earlier this week Vestas, the world’s leading wind turbine manufacturer, announced new contracts in Latin America (which is a wonderful development for those countries) in preparation for an anticipated decline in the US wind industry as Congress allows the Production Tax Credit to expire. What is important about Vestas’ announcement is CEO Ditlev Engel puts a number to the looming downturn with the PTC expiration – an 80% decrease in the US wind market.

That’s right – an 80% drop in US wind market. That has huge implications across many communities and in many areas – manufacturing, transportation, construction, job training/education, energy rates, and CO2 emissions. Literally, taking the wind out of the sails of a booming industry. It certainly as been the talk around the water cooler in our community.

Read more about how the boom and bust cycle the has impaired the steady growth of the US wind industry. US manufacturers are seeing a ramp up to complete projects by the end of 2012, but sales for 2013 are certainly lower than previous years. Congress needs to take action to support an industry that will help the US be an economic leader for decades to come.

posted by Kate Van Cantfort, CEP Director of Communications & Special Projects

Small scale wind projects appear to be popping in school yards across the country – certainly they are here in central Kansas. This seems wise for so many reasons – school budgets not among the least. I also see this as a way for future business leaders, policy makers, and consumers of energy to see and understand wind energy.

Then the EPA awards the Spirit Lake Iowa School District with a Green Power Partnership distinction and you have to be impressed. The school district is producing the majority of its power needs with on-site wind turbines. They are also taking advantage of geo-thermal heating and cooling systems. Beyond the budgetary and environmental benefits of the renewable energy projects at the Spirit Lake School District, the students are also benefitting from the educational programs used with the on site power generation.

To learn about other projects with the EPA Green Power Partnership award read here.

Kate Van Cantfort, CEP Director of Communications & Special Projects

Clean Line Energy received Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval to begin selling space on their Rock Island Clean Line high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission project that will run from northwest Iowa to Illinois. It will move 3500 MW of power from the best wind resources in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota to communities in Illinois and other states east.

We’re excited to see clean energy moving across the plains and can’t wait for the Grain Belt Express Clean Line through Kansas to get up and running! According to their website, this line could be ready for commercial operation in 2017.  Imagine moving 3500 MW of  renewable energy (more than we currently have installed) across the state to help power our friends to the east.

Michael Skelly, Jimmy Glotfelty and the rest of the Clean Line team have worked hard and deserve congratulations on their progress so far.

Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director, Climate + Energy Project

Great news for Sempra, BP Wind and Siemens as Sempra and Maui Electric announced development of a  new wind farm including 4 MW of energy storage. The announcement stated “the 21 MW wind farm will utilize eight Siemens wind turbines to generate enough renewable energy for approximately 10,000 average Maui homes.”

Bravo to Hawaii for a great move like this to create a secure energy future for its residents.

Read more about this new wind farm here.

Other great news:

Looks like New Mexico is preparing for a new renewable energy transmission line. The proposed project and associated upgraded facilities would make it possible to transport New Mexico’s wind and solar energy to electricity users across the Western states according to the announcement.

Well with all this great new news, we hope you have a great weekend!

Kate Van Cantfort, CEP Dir of Communications & Special Projects

This is a wonderful opportunity presented by the Wind Powering America project of the US Department of Energy. Please share this opportunity with recent graduates or others interested in all the opportunities in the wind industry.

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Careers in Wind Energy Webinar

Wednesday, May 16 at 3 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. MDT)

This free webinar is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Powering America 2012 webinar series. It will provide an overview of the wind energy careers from an industry perspective. The webinar will focus on recent work in defining wind energy careers while highlighting some of the critical, but lesser known, career paths in the wind industry.

Andy Swift, with the engineering department at Texas Tech University, will discuss graduates entering the workforce in resource assessment and project design and development. Jonathan Miles, James Madison University, will discuss careers in policy and finance related to renewables. Derek Johnson, Redstone College, will discuss the career of a wind smith, where graduates are employed, and what the college is hearing from graduates and the industry about the technical training program. Jonathan Bartlett, Wind Powering America national director, will discuss wind-related careers in law, banking, archaeology, biology, environmental consulting, and more. The webinar is free; no registration is required. Log-in information is below.

Audio Access Toll-free #: 800-988-9387 Toll #: 1-773-756-4665 Participant passcode: 5263973

Web Access URL: https://www.mymeetings.com/nc/join.php?i=RW9341550&p=5263973&t=c

If you have trouble with the above link, try going to this website and enter the information separately: URL: https://www.mymeetings.com/nc/join/ Conference number: RW9341550 Audience passcode: 5263973

Save the date for a future webinar. June 20: Success Stories