An advocate for wind energy says state and federal policies have led to a surge in wind development in Kansas. Kimberly Svaty, with the Wind Coalition, says a multi-year agreement on federal wind power tax credits and an agreement on tax policy at the state level have helped the industry grow.
Wind power development can ebb and flow with tax policies, but Svaty says favorable policies have helped develop nine new wind projects in Kansas during the last year.
“As with any industry, investment has choices in where they put their capital, and you want to put your capital in a location, in a state, in a city where there is a very stable policy environment,” says Svaty.
Last year, lawmakers considered adding a new excise tax to wind energy in Kansas, but that proposal was tabled in favor of a compromise. Svaty says she expects additional wind project announcements in the coming months and years.
While wind booms, the drop in oil prices has negatively affected jobs in Kansas. Ed Cross, with the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association, told lawmakers that low prices have caused oil and gas producers to slow down drilling projects and even shut down wells."
This is having a profound impact on the oil and gas industry. Producers themselves have laid off as much as 20-30 percent of the workforce. The service sector is hit the hardest, many of those companies have laid off as much as 50 percent,” says Cross.
Cross says nationwide the oil and gas industry has lost more than 200,000 jobs.