Every day, rural communities across Kansas benefit from a four-year-old law that provides needed income, good jobs and steady investments in our state. This law, the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, has helped Kansas become a national leader in developing, generating and exporting renewable energy.
This standard requires investor-owned utilities to generate 20 percent of peak demand electrical capacity from renewable sources by 2020.
Our state is poised to make this happen. Kansas is ranked second in the nation for wind energy potential, and Kansas City leads the nation in the shipping and distribution of biomass for bioenergy production.
According to the Department of Commerce, our state has 15 operating biofuel facilities. Additional ethanol and biodiesel facilities are on the horizon, including Abengoa Bioenergy's first commercial-scale hybrid biomass plant. Expansions in our capacity to convert sorghum to ethanol, and construction of state-of-the art anaerobic digesters at other facilities, are in the works. Kansas ranks fourth in total biomass production, with companies benefiting from economical access to feedstock for bio-based fuels, and proximity to feedlots that serve as a market for the biofuel byproducts that produce animal feed.
To put this in perspective, wind energy development can provide more than $13 million annually and more than $200 million in the next 20 years to farmers, ranch families and landowners across our state. Another $200 million will go to local governments over the next 20 years, helping fund critical infrastructure like schools, roads and bridges.
As a rural resident, taxpayer, farmer and citizen, I believe Kansas must continue to encourage energy investment, and not discourage it with attempts to roll back beneficial state policies. The Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard will lead to less dependency on others for our state's energy needs and continue to allow our state to be a leader in renewable energy development. Delaying this plan may mean significant job loss, and decreases in disposable income and business investment, while hampering homegrown development.
Kansas is one of 29 states, including Iowa and Missouri, with laws that promote and attract economic growth through renewable energy sources. Keeping our current policies in place, and perhaps strengthening them, will solidify Kansas as a place that is good for business and will prevent our jobs, investment and income from going to our competitors in the region.
Our legislators should continue advocating for the prosperity of Kansas' farm and ranch families by standing by the law that encourages renewable energy development. It provides jobs, attracts new businesses and invests in practical infrastructure for the state.
Steve Baccus is the president of Kansas Farm Bureau. He farms in Ottawa County