The following editorial appeared recently in the Kansas City Star:
You can't see the wind. But you sure can see the positive effects it's having in Kansas and other states when it comes to producing electricity.
The latest national statistics indicate that wise investments in wind energy are paying off. The U.S. Energy Department recently reported that, for the first time, wind became the top source of new U.S. electricity generation over a single year.
The construction of wind farms by utilities eager to supply customers with a clean, renewable source of power played a big role in that achievement.
Kansas stood out among the states that are putting a larger emphasis on wind energy. It ranks third in the nation in the percentage of electricity generation from wind, and it's ranked ninth in total wind generating capacity, up from 14th in the previous year.
This is a good time to credit Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback for his stalwart support of the wind industry. He didn't have to do that, at least politically. Most other top Republican officeholders in Kansas hewed to the party line that federal subsidies for wind should have died in Congress in 2012.
But Brownback consistently advocated that investing in wind was an excellent way to produce jobs as well as electricity in Kansas. The federal tax credits that financially help prod growth in the production of turbines, towers, blades and other key parts of the U.S. wind industry were kept in place, and deserve to be retained over the next few years.
The public subsidies are still necessary at this point to help prod investments in innovative technology. Much more work also must be done to build and improve transmission lines to get electricity to more populated areas in the state and surrounding areas.
Embracing wind energy is also environmentally responsible. Kansas and other states are reducing their future reliance on coal-powered plants that produce harmful pollution with long-term and costly effects on human health.
While wind production has grown rapidly, it provides less than 4 percent of the total supply of U.S. electricity. Boosters of wind power are hoping to drive that figure to 20 percent by 2030, an ambitious goal.
Yet the cost to install wind energy has dropped in recent years, making it more competitive with electricity generated by fossil fuels and encouraging investments in wind farms.
Statistics show that Kansas has the potential to add much more wind power capacity in the future. Sunflower State officials and the wind industry should be aggressive in promoting the benefits of this clean and reliable source of power.
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