Brownback to speak at national wind energy conference in Atlanta

Kansas is expected to be well represented – including by its chief executive – at the American Wind Energy Association Windpower 2012 conference next month in Atlanta.

Gov. Sam Brownback will speak at the conference, to be held June 3-6, along with Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, on what wind power has meant for their states.

Other Kansas companies and agencies at the conference include Kansas Department of Commerce, Siemens, Black & Veatch, AH Industries, Terracon Consultants and Wetzel Engineering.

Mary Nelson, human resources and office manager for Lawrence-based Wetzel, said the annual event is one of the industry’s larger conferences.

“It allows us to do a great deal of networking with various leaders in the industry,” she said, “… and get our name out there.”

She added that in the wind-power industry, the scale and importance of the conference is similar to what the National Business Aviation Association annual convention is to Wichita’s three business jet manufacturers.

AWEA said the conference will have more than 300,000 square feet of exhibits, with about 900 exhibitors. Attendees will represent the U.S. and 19 other countries, a news release from the association said.

According to an AWEA report on Kansas, the state ranks 14th nationally in overall wind installation. It says wind projects currently operating generate 1,274 megawatts of electricity. Wind projects under construction represent another 1,189 megawatts, AWEA said.

In 2010, the wind energy industry supported between 500 and 1,000 jobs in Kansas, the report said. Annual property tax payments by wind project owners in Kansas total $3.7 million, the report said.