Commentary: Kansas must capitalize on wind energy

Kansas learned last week that it's second only to Texas among states for its potential wind generation, according to a new report co-authored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Now, the state and its leaders, with help from Congress, should take the second-place status and run with it, turning that potential into power, jobs and profits.

The DOE study tripled the nation's wind capacity to 37 million gigawatt-hours of electricity a year, reflecting the vast technological improvements in wind turbines, which are getting taller and more powerful. As of 2008, only 52,000 gigawatt-hours were coming from wind turbines.

With Kansas in a position to generate 3.6 million gigawatt hours of the nation's future electricity from wind, up from old estimates of 1 million gigawatt hours, the economic development possibilities for the state suddenly seem limitless.

Among Kansas' assets are its topography and available land, according to Michael Brower, a principal in consulting firm AWS Truewind, which contributed to the DOE study. He said Kansas could become a major exporter of wind power to the markets of Denver, St. Louis and northern Texas.

"Just about anywhere you throw a dart at the map, you find a decent wind project site" in Kansas, Brower told The Eagle.

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