Kansas has some of the best potential in the country for wind energy, but it’s fallen from 11th to 14th

The state added 199 megawatts of capacity last year, giving it a total of 1,014 MW of wind turbines. But several states did far better, including Indiana, which in 2008 had a grand total of 131 megawatts. Last year it added 905 megawatts of wind power capacity, pulling it ahead of Kansas.

Iowa solidified its position of having the second-most capacity in the country, by adding 879 megawatts, for 3,670 MW total. Texas is first with 9,410 megawatts.

"It seems like there are some opportunities that are passing us by," said Maril Hazlett, associate director of the Climate and Energy Project, a nonprofit group in Kansas that promotes more use of renewable energy.

The rankings were compiled by the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group, which said that Kansas had reasons to be pleased, despite slipping in the ranking. The state surpassed 1,000 megawatts of capacity for the first time, and Siemens Energy Inc. decided to build a $50 million wind turbines factory in the state.

"All the pieces are there," said Elizabeth Salerno, director of industry data and analysis for the trade group.

But others in the industry said Kansas will have to export much of the wind farm it wants to generate, and that means upgraded transmission lines are needed.

A regional solution is still needed that will allow the wind power to be sent to states in the eastern U.S.

"We’re still somewhat bullish on Kansas, but we’re working hard on the transmission issue," said Geoffrey Coventry, senior vice president of operations for TradeWind Energy, a wind farm developer based in Lenexa.

Kansas City Power & Light plans to build about 300 megawatts of wind power for its Kansas and Missouri customers. At least a third of that would be in Kansas.

Westar Energy plans to have an additional 200 megawatts of wind power built as soon as 2011, but that could go into 2012 because improvements are needed just to transmit the power within the state.


By Steve Everly, www.kansascity.com