Kansas Energy Sector: Renewable Energy Can Coexist With The Oil Industry | Kansas
(The Center Square) – Kansas is well positioned to grow its renewable energy workforce,.
More than 4,500 people are employed in clean energy jobs in Wichita, which has the most renewable energy jobs in the state. Kansas ranks 32nd in the country for total clean energy jobs.
Josh Svaty, former Kansas Secretary of Agriculture, said Kansas has a long history of workforce training programs to create new jobs and opportunities in the energy sector.
“Renewable energy is an extension of long-standing programs that trained energy workers of previous generations,” Svaty told The Center Square. “Going forward, Kansas will continue to rely on our more than twenty community colleges who have the flexibility to adjust their training programs to meet the needs of the workforce. Continuing to fund K-12 education with a strong emphasis on the STEM curriculum, as well as funding for community and technical colleges and higher education, will remain of critical importance to sustaining a Advanced and skilled workforce capable of competing in the 21st century global energy economy. “
Some fear that the oil and gas industry is suffering from the state’s transition to this new direction. Svaty said it wasn’t. Renewable energies do not “compete” with oil and gas, but can run alongside or coexist with traditional energy, he said.
“There are several renewable energy projects in Kansas that generate electricity that coexist with the development of oil and gas fields,” Svaty said. “The growth of the renewable energy industry in Kansas is not a zero-sum game with oil and gas. Both are segments of the all-important energy saving in Kansas.”
Investing in renewable energy is an investment in rural Kansas, Svaty said.
“A rural county will often never have the opportunity to invest on this scale again,” said Svaty, referring to renewable infrastructure which is typically valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. “These dollars are having an impact across the region – local cement suppliers and aggregate producers will see more business in a ten-month wind farm construction than they typically would in five or even ten. years. Restaurants that exist from a steadfast local clientele are suddenly filled with building contractors who have money to spend. State legislators, using all the power of legislation, could never conceive of. a method of bringing so much investment to our most rural counties. “
Svaty said the economic benefits will be visible statewide.
“The opportunity for new growth and new investment doesn’t just happen in one region of the state,” Svaty said. “Urban areas see as many new jobs as rural areas in the new energy economy, but with a different skill set. In addition, many mid-sized communities take advantage of the economic opportunities to welcome new manufacturers, component suppliers, logistics or maintenance centers. or renovation companies. “