This week big wind lost.
The Kansas House this week passed a bill that would lift the mandate that required Kansas to have 20 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by 2020 and altered some tax incentives for the industry.
Many would argue this was a loss in the battle for the environment.
Although going green is a laudable cause, in Kansas the real battle is economic between big oil and big wind. This week big wind lost.
The issue of the goal is mute. Kansas already is at the 20 percent goal, but it needs to set its sights higher in order for the state and nation to continue to compete on the international stage.
The deal was seen as a compromise for the legislature dropping a proposal to impose a 4.33 percent excise tax on renewable power.
Advocates of renewable energy fear the repeal of the mandate will slow investment in renewable resource.
However, the wind lobby was facing an excise tax that would have cost Kansas wind farms millions of dollars annually.
More crucially the wind industry lost important tax incentives.
The agreement would decrease a lifetime exemption from property tax for new renewable projects to a 10-years exemption, after which the ventures would pay commercial property taxes.
They were bullied into the deal.
The legislation was a deal brokered behind closed doors between legislative leaders, the Wind Coalition, Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity.
Koch Industries and Gov. Sam Brownback have lobbied aggressively for several years to have the mandate repealed.
Kansas has already made strides in adding renewable energy in the state, including the Elk River Wind Farm near Beaumont a new wind farm being constructed by EDF Renewable Energy in Geuda Springs in Sumner County this year.
Kansas has long since been an important resource for oil, coal and natural gas.
Traditional energy production still employs thousands of Kansas and brings substantial revenue to the state.
Kansas’ traditional energy sources are going to continue to dwindle and become more expensive to access.
However, Kansas is ranked second in the nation for its wind energy potential.
The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab projects that if Kansas were to develop 7,158 MW of new wind by 2030 the economic impact for Kansas would total more than $7.8 billion in benefit to local economies, landowners and job creation, creating more than 26,000 new jobs.
This is not money Kansas can afford to leave on the table.
Kansas is poised to be a key component in the national renewable energy landscape — a stage on which the U.S. needs to play catch up.
By 2020, China will have accounted for 40 percent in the growth of the world’s renewable energy.
China has invested heavily in green energy and is creating 100,000 renewable energy jobs per year.
- Butler County Times-Gazette