Despite Fossil Fueled WindBaggers, Kansas and Iowa Blast Ahead in Wind
May 9, 2013
Windbaggers, do I have your attention? Apparently so, after the rash of negative votes on recent blog postings, looks like I’m on the Koch Brother’s hitlist.
Good. Now let’s continue.
More great news for wind investment in two key midwestern states, Kansas and Iowa.
Iowa is becoming our own home-grown Germany, with a wind power penetration of over 20 percent. Iowans, having seen wind energy up close, and seeing how it keeps their electric bills lower than neighboring states, give over 80 percent approval to wind as an energy source. Is there anything that gets more than 80 percent approval in our fractured society?
Ok, background checks for firearm sales, but never mind.
Point is, overwhelming numbers of Americans, having seen the positive benefits of renewable energy, want more energy that is clean, reliable, safe, and cheap. Fossil funded Windbaggers do not.
Gov. Terry Branstad announced Wednesday that MidAmerican Energy will make a $1.9 billion investment in Iowa for wind energy projects that will be the biggest single economic investment ever in the state.
“As wind energy goes, so does Iowa’s economy,” said Branstad, who spoke enthusiastically about the plans. He added, “Remember, once they make this investment it will be here for the next 40 or 50 years.”
MidAmerican officials said no sites have been selected yet, but they hinted the sites would be in northwest Iowa and south of Interstate Highway 80 in western Iowa.
Branstad, speaking at a late afternoon news conference, said MidAmerican Energy Co. will add up to 1,050 megawatts of wind generation, consisting of up to 656 new wind turbines, in Iowa by year-end 2015.
The wind expansion will enhance economic development and provide in excess of $360 million in additional property tax revenues over the next 30 years, officials said. Landowner payments totaling $3.2 million per year also are expected as a result of the expansion.
In addition, the expansion is planned to be built at no net cost to the company’s customers and will help stabilize electric rates over the long term by providing a rate reduction totaling $10 million per year by 2017, commencing with a $3.3 million reduction in 2015, MidAmerican officials said.
Kansas’s renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) was under attack through two bills: House Bill 2241 and Senate Bill 82. The renewable portfolio standard ensures that Kansans receive a certain percentage of renewable energy like wind and solar, culminating in 20 percent renewable energy by 2020. The House bill would have completely repealed the 20 percent benchmark. The Senate Bill would have delayed targets by two to four years.
But Kansans didn’t stand for this. Today, the House voted 63-59 to send the House bill back down to committee for further review. The Senate rejected SB 82 by a 23-17 vote this evening.
All this in a state where Republicans have a supermajority in both chambers. There are 33 Democrats and 92 Republicans in the House; 8 Democrats and 32 Republicans in the Senate.
What this shows is that the RPS is not a partisan issue, it is a bipartisan issue. The RPS signals to the wind industry that Kansas is open for business. And the wind industry has responded enthusiastically. The number of wind farms that came online from 2011 to 2012, after the passage of the RPS, nearly doubled Kansas’s installed wind capacity. The 19 wind farms operating in the state have created more than 12,300 jobs for Kansas citizens, $13.7 million in payments to landowners annually, and $10.4 million in contributions to communities each year. The RPS is good for jobs, good for the economy, and good for Kansans. It’s all just common sense.
But we were up against giant forces. The American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC)—a coalition of conservative state legislators and corporations has teamed upwith a number of fossil fuel-funded groups including the Heartland Institute, the American Tradition Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform on a nation-wide attack on state RPS policies. Kansas was one of the priority states on their list, and repealing the Kansas RPS represented a critical first step to in their momentum building strategy.
During the hearing, Representative Moxley, a Republican and rancher by trade, said it best when he noted that there is an entire industry built up on the RPS, meaning hundreds of millions of dollars, and that changing this would be devastating to Kansas’s economy. The RPS truly is a bipartisan issue that is bringing jobs and prosperity to the state. The number of wind farms that came online from 2011 to 2012, after the passage of the RPS, nearly doubled Kansas’s installed wind capacity. And the 19 wind farms operating in Kansas have created more than 12,300 jobs, $13.7 million in payments to landowners annually, and $10.4 million in contributions to communities each year. These are real benefits, experienced by real Kansans.