The Garden City Telegram
10/13/2012
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Wind sock

Right-wing politics puts projects on shaky ground.

Uncertainty swirling around wind-energy tax credits has cast a cloud over various wind-related projects.

Forces in Congress — namely Republican conservatives, including First District Rep. Tim Huelskamp — want to scrap a federal wind-production tax credit, even though the incentive has fueled business growth and created jobs.

Fear over losing the tax credit set to expire at year's end has sparked many economic setbacks, including more than 250 layoffs at the Siemens Energy plant in Hutchinson.

Huelskamp was quick to call out President Obama over those job losses — quite a spin considering the layoffs came about because of uncertainty surrounding a tax credit Obama supports, and one Huelskamp and other GOP conservatives would eliminate.

And now we have a Kansas firm forging ahead with a $300 million wind-energy investment in southwest Kansas.

The Buffalo Dunes Wind Project — a deal between Lenexa-based TradeWind Energy and Alabama Power Co. — is to cover 42,000 acres in Grant, Haskell and Finney counties, and is more proof of Kansas' great wind-power potential.

An estimated 150 new jobs would be created during construction, with about 15 full-time workers at the operational facility. Beyond needed job gains, such projects also benefit property owners who lease land for the ventures.

Most of the project is set in Grant and Haskell counties, with a smaller part in Finney County, but everyone benefits. When a business creates good jobs, it's an economic plus for the region that can extend to trucking, motels, restaurants and beyond.

With doubt surrounding the tax credit, many companies understandably are moving quickly on wind projects. Firms like TradeWInd know future ventures could depend on extension of the tax credit.

It's also worth noting that oil and gas operations benefit from tax breaks.

Ideally, economic conditions would allow all wind-related projects to thrive without a tax break. But losing an incentive when others in energy production receive as much makes no sense.

The new wind farm is welcome in southwest Kansas. Political interests shouldn't be allowed to pull the plug on such progress, especially in a state naturally suited to be a leader in wind production.