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Eye on the prize

5/27/2014

To say that renewable energy proponents, specifically wind manufacturers, are blowing away their opponents might be hyperbole.

To say that renewable energy proponents, specifically wind manufacturers, are blowing away their opponents might be hyperbole.

But the wind industry definitely is holding its own in Kansas and across the U.S. It took on Americans for Prosperity, a Koch brothers group that targets Democrats and moderate Republican politicians. Wind won.

It took down anti-tax heavyweight Grover Norquist.

In Kansas, the wind industry managed to successfully battle the powerful Kansas Chamber of Commerce while gaining the support of Gov. Sam Brownback. All of this is good for a community such as Hutchinson, which is home to Siemens, a multinational company that produces wind turbines in Hutch. This is good for Kansas, too.

But the naysayers, who decry any kind of tax credit for renewable energy, continue the battle.

"I can't think of an industry that is better connected politically in getting favors from the state and federal government than wind energy, ethanol and all the green energies," Christine Harbin Hanson, national issues manager for the heavy-hitting conservative group Americans for Prosperity told the Kansas City Star.

Instead of working side by side with the renewable energy industry, oil and gas proponents believe their financial futures are at stake. But more than that, they simply can't accept that renewable energy has to play a significant role in the future of the U.S. Oil is a diminishing energy source, and renewable energy is clean and limitless.

So when wind energy supporters battle the big guys and win, it's a big deal. But renewable energy proponents need to remain vigilant because it's evident in Kansas and several other of the 29 states with "green" mandates that oil and gas heavyweights won't give up the fight.

According to the Star, Kansas lawmakers the past three years refused to eliminate the mandate, but opponents continue to work for repeal. Green supporters, though, still have Brownback touting the benefits of wind energy.

Yet Hanson believes the wind is about to shift.

"Talk to me in two years," she said. "I think the playing field will look really different."

Such talk is why renewable energy proponents always need to be looking over their shoulders. You never know if a green monster of another ilk is on the pitcher's mound.

Editorial by the Hutchinson News

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