U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy U.S. Department of Energy Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
  • Printable Version
  • Bookmark and Share

Wind Energy Powering Economic Development in Rural Communities

Wind Energy Powering Economic Development in Rural Communities

Date: 4/15/2009

Location: KS

Source: Stacia Cudd, National Association of Farm Broadcasting News Service

Audio with Kansas Lieutenant Governor Mark Parkinson (MP3 2.4 MB) Download Windows Media Player. Time: 00:02:34.

Wind energy has really taken off in Kansas in the last couple of years — now with the capacity to generate one-thousand megawatts of electricity with wind. Lieutenant Governor Mark Parkinson says that's providing a real boost to rural communities.

"One of the great benefits of wind energy is that very often, the best wind resources are located in rural areas where economic development has been very challenging over the last few years. There's initially a major boost during the construction phase; where for eight to 12 months, a significant number of workers are in the area, using up all the hotel rooms, renting homes, buying goods from the local retailers. And then in the long-run, there's a real benefit to the folks that have the wind turbines on their land, because the lease payments can be very generous."

Actually, of all of the positives wind energy brings to a state, Parkinson says economic development is the most important to the state of Kansas. And he notes the Department of Energy believes the state has the potential to produce seven-thousand megawatts of wind energy each year, which would obviously have a great economic impact.

"If we got to seven-thousand megawatts of wind there would be wind farm developments all over the western part of the state, which means that many landowners would be benefitting from long-term lease payments. It would mean that there would be many people employed in the wind energy services area that would be there to repair wind turbines as they became disabled. It would mean that we would have attracted a large number of manufacturers because they want to be near where the wind farms are actually going to be built."

Looking to the future, Parkinson says there's no reason Kansas shouldn't be a leader in wind energy. While he says the state started out way behind with just 364 megawatts installed in 2006, the state is starting to catch up. He says there's still a long way to go — including in the area of manufacturing.

"It makes sense for wind farm factories to be located in Kansas because there's going to be so many wind farm developments here. We're behind; we don't have any right now. We're working hard to get them. And my hope would be that 10 or 15 years from now, western Kansas would have lots and lots of wind farms and that central Kansas, where we have a great manufacturing base, would have lots of factories that build the components for those wind farms."

Kansas is one of nine states that has reached the one-thousand megawatt milestone. Texas is the leader in installed wind power capacity at nearly 75-hundred megawatts.

This information was last updated on April 15, 2009