Last week, the Kentucky Renewable Energy Consortium (KREC) and the Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence hosted a webinar to explore the potential for useable wind power in Kentucky (see post for details). The overwhelming consensus of the speakers was YES, Kentucky does have it what it takes to harvest wind energy…provided the policy supports are put in place to do so.
New research, conducted by Kentucky Mesonet and others, shows that at higher elevations (80 meters, 100 meters) Kentucky does have the wind resources worthy of investing in wind energy. Previous research conducted at 50 meters did not paint as rosy a picture. In fact, all states bordering Kentucky are currently making use of wind energy – showing that it is really possible, and if we get our policies right profitable, to put wind in the Bluegrass.
There are significant job-creation benefits to promoting a strong wind industry in the state. Webinar presenter Peggy Beltrone, the County Commissioner of Cascade County, Montana, cited a 25 x ’25 analysis that predicts $1.93 billion increase in farm income (from renting space for turbines), $11 billion in increased economic activity and 91,000 new jobs in Kentucky by 2025.
Jeff Reinkenmeyer, Senior Developer for Iberdrola Renewables, fielded a question about what Kentucky can do to encourage companies to come into the state and develop projects. Jeff answered from Iberdrola’s perspective as the world’s largest owner and operator of renewable energy systems – as well as a company interested in exploring opportunities in Kentucky – by saying that “from a business and policy standpoint, a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) would encourage [project] development.”
The messages from companies interested in doing business in the state and groups committed to strengthening Kentucky from within the Commonwealth are the same – now it’s time to be sure Frankfort is listening.