Kansas is well on its way to becoming a national leader in ethanol production, but it’s falling behind when it comes to wind energy, Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson said Saturday.
“We are the second- or third-best state for wind farms in the country, but we only have three major wind farms,” he said during an interview at the Globe. “The two obstacles that have prevented us from advancing beyond that are the lack of transmission lines and the lack of cooperative rate decisions from the Kansas Corporation Commission.”
He said he thought the state can fix the problem of moving wind-generated electricity by providing incentives for utility companies to build transmission lines, and state officials could encourage the Kansas Corporation Commission to take the cost of building wind farms into account when it makes rate decisions.
Parkinson toured the Spearville Wind Farm Saturday as part of his work for the Kansas Energy Council, which is responsible for developing the state’s long-term energy policy. The lieutenant governor is co-chairman of the Energy Council along with Ken Frahm.
Parkinson and Frahm told lawmakers last week that the state must adopt measures to encourage wind farm development. For instance, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has called for the state to generate 10 percent of its electricity from wind by 2010 and 20 percent by 2020.
The governor’s budget proposal includes $1 million to spur construction of transmission lines to carry wind-generated electricity from southwest Kansas to the eastern part of the state.
Parkinson said the money would pay for the staff necessary to develop plans for transmission lines and get them approved, in hopes that a utility company would then use the plans to build the lines.
“It doesn’t make sense to build a bunch of wind farms if we don’t have the transmission to use the energy, so we have to get the transmission built first,” he said. “And that’s what we’re very focused on because even once you make the decision to build the transmission line, it still takes four to five years. So we’ve got to get on top of that right away.”
He said if transmission lines are built in the next five years, the state could reach its goal of generating 20 percent of its electricity from wind before 2020.
The Kansas Energy Council also wants the state to adopt several energy-conservation programs, including requiring utility companies to provide their customers with conservation services. Utilities could recover the cost of those services from customers in much the same way that they recoup the costs of building new plants.
The council’s other recommendations include:
Â¥ Making the state set a good example for conservation.
Â¥ Requiring new homes to come with energy efficiency disclosures.
Â¥ Encouraging the state to work with local governments on developing energy efficiency standards for new homes.
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