Renewable Energy Technology Incentives in Kansas
While Kansas has a number of renewable technology incentives in place, last year saw it repeal its creditable 2009 renewables mandate to have 20% of its energy needs provided by green technology by the next decade. Instead, the renewable portfolio standard has been made voluntary. Other changes, including the repeal of the lifetime property tax exemption to apply only for the first ten years, could have a detrimental impact on the future of renewables in the state.
Wind power has certainly profited under the RPS with over 20% of the state’s electricity capacity coming from this technology in 2014, Kansas had already met its target for 2025. Legislators have said that removing the RPS will make the economic environment more stable and allow the renewables industry to thrive though many campaigners for clean energy have their doubts and see it as a regressive move.
Solar is not high on the agenda in Kansas despite there being plenty of sunshine to produce electricity. There are just 35 solar companies in the state, employing a little over 600 people. The capacity for Kansas is a lowly 2.5 MW which means it ranks 43rd in the country with only enough energy to support some 360 homes. There are enough incentives comparable to other states to make it theoretically viable for a much more vigorous solar industry in the state and prices for solar panels have dropped, as everywhere else, by as much as 45% in the last five years.
Solar PV Incentives in Kansas
While Kansas does net metering this only means that accrued electricity can be passed over onto the following months rather than providing a more robust Feed in Tariff that could actually increase uptake and enthusiasm for the technology.
There is the Federal Tax Rebate that shaves some 30% off the initial cost and a 10 year property tax exemption now in place for both commercial and private interests. In general, with 225 days of sunshine per year, most would think that Kansas is a prime location for solar PV but there needs to be significant changes in legislation for that to take effect. Net metering prior to 2014 meant that homes with solar couldn’t be charged for connecting to the grid but that rule was changed and new installations have to pay utility companies for the service.
Much about the solar industry has to do with the influence of the utility companies and many see recent steps as highly regressive, making it difficult for the industry to thrive. Even when the Renewable Portfolio Standard wasn’t voluntary, there was no clear mandate for solar which would have seen further development of the industry.
Solar PV Case Study in Kansas
Despite not having the other tax incentives and rebates that more progressive states offer, the chances of making a return on investment with solar PV are still good. A 5 kW system should cost around $21,250 with a reduction through the 30% Federal Tax Rebate. Pay off time if you choose to take out a low cost loan will be in the region of 15 years and after that you can expect a profit of around $10,000 for the 25-year lifetime of the array.
Solar Thermal Incentives in Kansas
Solar thermal benefits in Kansas benefits from all the incentives of solar PV and has a decent uptake with residential and businesses. This is no surprise considering an array can help cut hot water heating costs by as much as 60-70%.
Small Hydro Incentives in Kansas
The Bowersock Hydroplant in Lawrence is the only major hydroelectric facility in the state producing around 7 MW. Recent research has suggested that Kansas has a large, untapped potential for hydropower but little has been done to progress this further. While micro hydro installations would benefit from incentives such as the Federal Tax Rebate there are issues with getting planning permission that could be prohibitive.
Geothermal Incentives in Kansas
As with other states, incentives such as rebates and loans are available for installing technology like ground source heat pumps with many of the utility companies operating their own low cost loan schemes. One such is provided by MidWest Energy which supplies loans at 3% over a period of 16 years.
Biomass Incentives in Kansas
The biggest biomass project in Kansas so far is the Abengoa Bioenergy project which is designed to produce ethanol from corn but also to produce some 22 MW of electricity. Biomass installations for commercial and residential properties do benefit from Federal Tax Rebates as well as the state property tax credit. While take up is not big at the moment, future incentives could make it more popular, particularly for businesses.
Wind Power Incentives in Kansas
Wind power is by far the most successful renewable endeavor in Kansas, accounting for over 20% of the energy mix in the state. By 2014, Kansas had in the region of 3,000 MW of capacity installed but this may eventually slow down because of changes to legislation, despite the huge potential for more. Small scale wind turbines for farms and remote locations are not uncommon and benefit from the Federal Tax Rebate as well as the property tax credit. For farms there are various federal grant and loan schemes including the Rural Energy for America Program.
While it may have started off leading many other states in the US, in recent times Kansas has cut down the support for its renewable industry. While 20% of electricity does come from wind power, the state has a long way to go before it as seen as one of the major players in green energy with a mix that takes advantage of all its natural resources.
To find out what existing incentives Kansas has for renewable technology, visit the DSIRE website.