The Garden City Telegram
7/24/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Wind move

Renewed tax credit helps fuel wind-power projects.

Renewal of a federal tax credit generated the kind of energy needed to power new wind projects.

Proof of as much has come in a push toward wind farm development in western Kansas and beyond, with one such project recently taking a step forward.

The Buffalo Dunes Wind Project planned by Lenexa-based TradeWind Energy and Alabama Power Co. would stretch through Grant, Haskell and Finney counties. Developers of the proposed 250-megawatt wind farm recently signed an agreement for $260 million in tax equity funding for the project.

Another positive sign on the local wind energy front came in the resurgence in operations at Transportation Partners and Logistics in Garden City, which saw business drop off amid uncertainty over the wind energy production tax credit. It was good to see jobs saved at TP&L, an off-loading and distribution site for blades and other wind-generating components, especially as the possible loss of the federal tax credit led various businesses in the industry to scale back operations.

Some jobs were lost, and new ventures planned in the quest to create a more diverse energy portfolio stalled — even in Kansas, a state with great potential as a wind producer and exporter.

Congress' decision to extend the federal Wind Production Tax Credit was an incentive needed to power new projects. Moving forward, we should expect more of the same in a windy state like Kansas.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Kansas doubled its installed wind base with 1,441 megawatts of new wind power capacity in 2012, the third most capacity added in the nation. The AWEA also said the Sunflower State had the second highest wind potential.

Kansas and the nation need a diversified energy strategy that incorporates wind and other renewable sources as a step toward energy independence. Local communities need the jobs and business new wind projects bring.

And now, wind energy deals are being signed, and production is back on track.

Consider the tax credit the key to those developments, which have become all the more vital in a state naturally suited be a leader in wind production.