A new report concludes that calling Kansas the Saudi Arabia of wind power is actually an understatement of its blustery wealth.
Last October, Kansas Lt. Gov. (and wind czar) Mark Parkinson asked the American Council on Renewable Energy, a non-profit group based in Washington, D.C., to put hard numbers on the state's renewable energy potential. The study released yesterday says the Sunflower State could produce so much juice from sustainable sources that electricity could become a multibillion-dollar export industry.
Despite its Middle-East-like energy assets, the report concludes, Kansas lags behind neighboring states, like Iowa and Texas, when it comes to wind development. Given that Kansas legislators seem more interested in arguing about "clean" coal than enacting a renewable energy standard, like, oh, just about every other state in the country, that conclusion wasn't all that surprising.
By ACORE's estimate, though, Kansas could churn out as much as 19,000 megawatts from wind -- nearly 20 times what's in operation right now and way more power than the entire state needs to keep the lights on. Getting to that goal, the study suggests, would add $23 billion in economic benefit to the state by 2030.
But there is one hitch. "In order to get to the point where we're not just talking about one or two thousand megawatts but talking about ten or twenty thousand megawatts, it's very clear we need to sell that energy outside the state," Mark Parkinson said in an online press conference yesterday.
In order for that to happen, he explained, we need two things.
Number one: Transmission lines to bring that wind power from the
western reaches of the state. Number two: A reason for utilities in New
Orleans and Chicago to buy our wind power once those transmission
connections are in place. For that, Parkinson suggested, we'll need a
little help from Congress.
"There are multiple ways to create that demand from other states to
buy our wind," he explained. "One is if the price of wind continues to
come down. But, the easier and quicker way is if Congress makes wind
cheaper by placing a price on carbon or forcing other states to
purchase Kansas wind through a national renewable energy standard. That
would be the single biggest economic boon Kansas has encountered in