Literally and figuratively, Kansas and Missouri stand at the crossroads of the United State’s quest for an “all-of-the-above” energy policy. Located in the heartland of the United States, these states enjoy abundant access to traditional and renewable energy resources. Just as importantly, the central location of Kansas and Missouri place these states in a critical segment of the national infrastructure that is needed to transport those resources to population centers across the country. With proper planning, these critical investments create an excellent opportunity to create jobs and bolster the economies of communities throughout the region.
Generation and Production
With the second best wind resource in the United States, the State of Kansas has made great strides in developing a robust wind industry over the last few years. In 2011 in particular, Kansas boasts eight major wind projects under construction, is set to nearly double its installed capacity in the span of a single year and leads the country in wind project construction.
In Missouri, the most recent successes involve solar energy. Based in large part on a solar carve-out in the state Renewable Energy Standard and a $2.00 per kilowatt rebate for net-metered solar installations, both of which were introduced as part of an overwhelmingly approved 2008 voter ballot initiative, Missouri has enjoyed a recent surge in small to mid-sized solar projects over the last year.
Oil & Gas
As with renewables, the Midwest region is ideally located to reap tremendous benefits from its access to traditional fuel resources. In particular, due to its prime location on the Mississippian Lime Play, Kansas has enjoyed a surge in oil and gas developments across the state. From March to July of 2012 alone, the Kansas Corporation Commission approved roughly 3,000 Notice of Intent to Drill filings.
Transmission & Pipeline Infrastructure
Regardless of whether it is moving north, south, east or west across the country, a significant amount of the electricity, oil, natural gas, or coal produced in the United States will pass through Kansas or Missouri at some point. As a result, it is vital that both Kansas and Missouri adopt well-reasoned policies to ensure that the states can enjoy the economic benefits that come with this infrastructure, and to avoid any bottlenecking of these valuable resources.
It is no surprise that the renewable energy being generated in remote locations across the Midwest is only useful if it can be transported to consumers. Fortunately, there are a number of companies currently constructing transmission lines that create a modern, robust electricity grid across the region. These projects include Clean Line Energy’s 700-mile Grain Belt Express Clean Line, Kansas City Power & Light’s and the Omaha Public Power District’s proposed 190-mile Missouri to Nebraska line, ITC Great Plain’s 225-mile KETA Project, and the 122-mile “V-Plan” line being built by ITC Great Plains and Prairie Wind Transmission, a joint venture of Westar Energy and Electric Transmission America.
Just as with the electricity transmission lines, the influx of new oil and natural gas projects across the Midwest have dramatically increased demand for a strong pipeline infrastructure. Both Kansas and Missouri have made great strides in this regard recently. For example, Missouri hosts portions twelve interstate natural gas pipelines, including the largest state-to-state pipeline in the region, the Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline Company’s line. Other notable interstate pipelines include those developed by ANR Pipeline Co., Centerpoint Energy Gas Transmission Co., Mississippi River Transmission Corp., Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Co., and Texas Eastern Transmission Corp.
An Energy Policy for the Future
Whether you look at renewable resources or traditional fuel resources, it is clear that Kansas and Missouri are ideally located to play a national role as both a producer and courier for our nation’s future energy supply. All that is required is a well-reasoned set of policies that ensure that these industries can develop at their full potential, and that local communities that host these developments receive appropriate economic rewards. Standing at this crossroads in our nation’s energy policy, the key question is which paths these states will choose to best secure their place as a key player in the United State’s energy future.