Kansas manufacturers ready to serve wind power industry

Leaders in the Kansas Blue Green Alliance will meet on Wednesday, February 10th at the District 70 Machinists’ Union to announce the results of the Kansas Wind Energy Supply Chain Survey.

The survey was coordinated by a partnership of the Kansas Department of Commerce, Advanced Manufacturing Institute, Climate and Energy Project (CEP), Blue Green Alliance, and American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Over 200 companies from 49 Kansas counties completed the survey.

Leaders from labor unions, state agencies, and environmental organizations are joining to discuss the promising results: Kansas manufacturers are gearing up to build components and provide services for the wind industry. Wind is a fast growing sector of the Kansas economy, and several studies indicate the state has great potential to create green jobs.

The Advanced Manufacturing Institute, in collaboration with the Kansas Department of Commerce, found that:

* 27% Kansas companies serve the wind industry already. The other 73% indicated keen interest. Currently, these companies serve construction, automotive, agriculture, aerospace and aviation industries.
* 66% of those currently serving the wind industry have planned future expansion projects – including increasing equipment, personnel, and facility size.
* Firms interested in entering the market are already collecting information and developing business plans to re-tool their shops.
* The survey also explored barriers to entry into the wind industry. Respondents indicated that: workforce training in quality control, general mechanical systems, and airfoil composite repair were their greatest educational needs.

Westar Energy Inc. (NYSE: WR) and Kansas City Power & Light Co., electric utilities that serve the Kansas City area, have been increasing their emphasis on wind power.