Proponents of wind power development in Kansas scored a victory Monday when Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed a bill creating an entity with the power to build electricity transmission lines when utilities won't.
The new entity, the Kansas Electric Transmission Authority, is designed to aid the development of wind farms in rural stretches that aren't close to the electricity grid. It also gives utilities in remote areas of western Kansas a chance to hook into the grid and have better availability of electricity.
"There's a tremendous opportunity for wind generation, and this is one way to solve that problem," Charles Benjamin, a Sierra Club lobbyist who helped write the legislation, said Tuesday.
The new authority will be able to issue bonds through the Kansas Development Finance Authority to finance the construction of transmission lines. Fees paid by utilities that use the power lines will pay off the bonds. …
The Kansas Electric Transmission Authority is patterned after the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, which was created last year to help that state export cheap coal power to other states using new transmission lines.
Kansas has been a net importer of power since 1996, and that trend is expected to continue, according to a report last year by the Kansas Energy Council.
Benjamin said the authority will allow the state to build transmission lines and ship wind power to other states that are in an energy crunch.
If Kansas developed all the land suitable for wind generation, we could produce 30 times the electricity we consume. That would involve 5% of the land being used for the turbines and other actual construction. Even 1/30 of that generation would be a major accomplishment, complete and sustainable energy independence. This is a good step in that direction. It's self funding, it's good policy, and it helps rural Kansans along the way. It's not altogether wrong to compare this to the TVA.