Kansas tops in new wind power construction

01/27/2012 5:00 AM

01/28/2012 6:56 AM

Kansas has been an underperformer in wind energy compared to some other states, but that’s about to change.

Kansas, ranked 14th among states in installed wind generation, is scheduled to see an increase this year of 1,188 megawatts of wind generating capacity — the most of any state, according to the American Wind Energy Association. That will nearly double the state’s existing 1,277 megawatts of installed wind power generation.

Much of the wind power generated in the state remains here because of the aggressive role of Westar Energy in developing or buying wind farms. Dorothy Barnett, executive director of the Climate and Energy Project, said wind power supplies 7 percent of Kansas’ electrical demand.

Nationwide, the wind industry is set to install more than 8,300 megawatts this year, up from the 6,810 megawatts installed in 2011.

This will be a big year for wind farm openings as developers race to cash in before a key tax credit expires at end of the year.

“If the production tax credit isn’t extended, much of that will stop next year,” Barnett said. “That is what we are hearing from the industry.

“For us in Kansas, that not only impacts jobs, but because we have such a growing supply base, with Siemens and the other companies, we could get a double whammy.”

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