The following is an edited transcript of a recent address by Lt. Gov. Troy Findley:
Our nation faces a growing energy challenge, one that demands a "made in America" energy solution that reduces our dependence on foreign oil and our global footprint.
Kansas is ready to be a leader in that effort and create potentially thousands of jobs in the new energy economy. As chairman of Gov. Mark Parkinson's subcabinet team on energy, I've made it my duty to make certain Kansas continues to capitalize on this opportunity.
Kansas is rich with natural energy resources. It is a top 10 state in oil and natural gas production. Kansas also ranks first in grain sorghum produced and is a leader in growing corn, both essential in the production of ethanol. And as many Kansans already know, we are ranked the second-best state for wind-energy potential in the country.
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But it was only three years ago that Kansas was falling behind. In fact, at the end of 2007, we were producing only a little more than 3 percent of our state's electricity from wind energy. And while our administration was working with stakeholders to increase our wind energy without mandates, Kansas didn't have a comprehensive energy policy.
We've come a long way in three years.
We tripled the amount of power generated from wind. We passed comprehensive energy legislation in Kansas, which included a renewable electricity standard (to help establish goals for having a percentage of our electricity generated from renewable energy sources) and a net-metering policy (to allow customers to sell back their extra electricity to their utility). And in the past year, we've attracted three new wind-turbine manufacturing companies to Kansas, creating hundreds of green-collar jobs.
But there is more work to be done to maximize our potential. That's why our administration continues to push for the necessary infrastructure that will guide Kansas toward becoming a leader in renewable energy.
Much of our focus is geared toward transmission — which does not always receive a lot of attention, but is essential in connecting our state's wind energy to the homes and businesses that can utilize its power.
So far we've made great progress in the development of two major transmission projects: The V-Plan — a 200-mile transmission project that will run from Spearville to Wichita and connect with another transmission line running into Oklahoma — and the KETA Project — also known as the Spearville-Axtell line, which, once completed, will run from Spearville to a substation in Axtell, Neb., a distance of about 225 miles.
With our capabilities for wind power in Kansas, we have a great opportunity to export this renewable energy to other regions and grow our economy.
We are also encouraging Kansans to implement changes in their everyday lives by making their homes and businesses more sustainable and more cost-effective. Through programs such as Efficiency Kansas and the Kansas Weatherization Assistance Program, Kansans can apply for assistance to make energy-efficiency improvements to their homes.
Kansas now has a benchmark for understanding where we can grow in this effort. In May, I helped announce Kansas' first ever Green Jobs Survey. We learned that in the next two years, Kansas has the ability to grow 10,000 green jobs, and we are on our way to making that happen. With the help of a work force training grant through the Recovery Act, the Kansas Department of Commerce is training Kansans in renewable energy and energy-efficient practices.
We've accomplished a lot over the past three years in regard to energy, but looking ahead, our opportunities are still virtually limitless. Kansas is ready to be a leader, and we look forward to the new jobs, more wind power and the stronger economy that will result.