Three significant chambers of commerce along with economic development leaders that represent more than 50 Kansas companies are encouraging more local chambers and economic development organizations to join them in speaking out about the detrimental economic impact that would result from legislative efforts to end the state’s renewable portfolio standard.
The Greater Kansas City, Hutchinson/Reno County, and Greater Topeka chambers recently posted an online letter that they are asking local Kansas chambers and economic development organizations to sign onto by noon Central Time on Tuesday, March 10, 2015. These chambers are leading the charge in collaboration with the Harvey County Economic Development Council and Dodge City Ford County Development Corporation.
The joint letter states that existing renewable portfolio standards for energy production in the state has proved to be a pro-growth policy with minimal costs.
Referring to House Bill 2373 and Senate Bill 253, which would eliminate the standard by January 1, 2016, the letter goes onto say: “Elimination or reduction of the RPS will risk hampering the ability of Kansas to aggressively compete for, and win, projects from any industry currently conducting a site location search nationally.”
Observing that economic development professionals recognize that sites offering some portion of energy generated from renewable resources are considered to be more competitive, the letter cites the Mars Chocolate facility in Topeka as an example of a business established due, in part, to the state’s goals for renewable energy. “Many large companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Google are now looking to locate their data centers where they can be powered by renewable energy,” it adds.
The current RPS requires the state’s major utilities to obtain a steadily increasing proportion of their power from renewable sources.
Among the businesses represented by the groups opposing HB 2373/SB 253 are wind farm developers and service providers; manufacturing companies such as Siemens Wind Energy; research and educational institutions such as K-State and Cloud County Community College; engineering, architecture and consulting firms; construction firms, contractors, and small wind and solar dealers engaged in the renewable energy economy.
Defending Kansas’ successful renewable energy policy is not new to these business leaders. The Kansas Legislature’s prior efforts to end the policy have failed every time– due in large part to the strong voice of the business community, including local chambers that recognize the economic benefits of clean energy development to the state. Local chambers in Kansas, and across the country, are keenly aware of how clean energy policies, such as renewable energy standards, are helping drive local economic development and investment.