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Wind Stakeholder Interview: State Representative Tom Sloan, Kansas

Tom Sloan

State Representative Tom Sloan, Lawrence, Kansas.

Wind Stakeholder Interview: State Representative Tom Sloan, Kansas

Date: 4/1/2002

Location: Lawrence, KS

"The wind offers energy independence for many Kansas residents. Federal, state, and local governments working together provide access to affordable energy choices. The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America Program partners with Kansas' legislators to serve Kansas consumers and the environment." State Representative Tom Sloan, Lawrence, Kansas.

Having nearly completed my fourth term in the Kansas House of Representatives (8th year), I know that legislators are the only ones who can create a favorable climate for investment in wind energy. Tax policies at the state level can supplement federal incentives or seriously undermine them. Kansas' renewable energy legislative leaders recognize that mandating a renewable portfolio is not feasible in our state. Therefore, we concentrate on increasing business incentives (e.g., tax abatements, alternative low-cost financing of construction), and encouraging "traditional utilities" to purchase renewable energy for resale or domestic use. The Chairman of the Kansas Corporation Commission favors the development of renewable energy and, thus, is an ally of those legislators working in that arena, as well as to the wind industry.

In addition to my position as a Kansas legislator, I am also an adjunct faculty member of Kansas University (formerly assistant professor of political science at Kansas State University), a consultant for small businesses and associations on strategic planning (formerly an executive with a statewide association and several energy corporations), Vice Chairman of the House Utilities Committee, and a member of the National Wind Coordinating Committee.

I was raised on a farm and my wife and I currently own a farm on which we raised three children. As a member of a farming community, I believe that wind energy provides economic opportunities for rural landowners suffering from low commodity prices and a cost efficient means of expanding generation in Kansas. Although rural development is extremely difficult to achieve, wind turbines are ideal because they provide revenue, but do not usurp large amounts of productive ground (i.e., they allow crop and animal agriculture to continue), and they do not threaten the quality of our water, soil, and air. In addition, wind farms require less capitol and labor to construct and maintain than do traditional generation facilities.

The cost of wind energy will ultimately determine whether or not wind power will assume a larger role in the nation's energy supply. Although public opinion polls indicate many citizens are willing to pay a higher price for renewable energy, relatively few customers actually have made that choice when presented the opportunity. My legislative efforts are focused on creating the political and economic climate in which wind energy can be cost competitive with "traditional" fuels, and, as such, attractive to utilities to meet their customers' energy needs.

I am also committed to providing the political and economic conditions in which individuals can erect smaller wind turbines to meet their own energy needs and, in partnership with the "traditional utility," sell their excess power. This necessarily requires that partnerships be developed between utilities, the Legislature, and both renewable energy producers and consumers. We are getting there.

This information was last updated on August 02, 2011