Keeping up with the Joneses

Cedar Crest, the Kansas governor's mansion, outside Topeka.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback wants a wind turbine at the governor’s mansion.

Brownback, a former U.S. Senator, is staunchly conservative, but has been supportive of tapping the state’s vast wind power reserves, and backed a federal renewable energy standard proposal while in Congress (however, he also notably campaigned against wind development in the scenic Flint Hills area of eastern Kansas — and yes, there are scenic areas in Kansas).

The idea to put up a wind turbine at the governor’s mansion called to mind the iconic oil rig in front of the Oklahoma state capitol – a counterpoint of sorts, energy future vs. the energy past and that sort of thing.

But it turns out that Oklahoma is also the first state in the U.S. to install a wind turbine at its governor’s mansion — a 10 kW project completed last May. A similar turbine went up on the capitol grounds a few weeks later.

Solar panels have been installed on state capitols in Wisconsin, Colorado and Oregon.

There’s nothing unusual about renewable energy projects at public buildings. But there’s a high level of symbolism to putting up a wind turbine at the governor’s mansion or the state capitol.

And the fact that the first states to make such a visible statement about wind power are also among the most conservative in the U.S. is further proof that the politics of renewable energy don’t break as cleanly along red/blue lines as some would have you believe.

Photo by Jimmy Emerson via Creative Commons

2 thoughts on “Keeping up with the Joneses

  1. Solar panels were also installed at the Wisconsin Governor’s mansion at about the same time as the panels on the capitol building went up: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/sen26/news/Press/2009/0914_DR_CapERSolar.pdf

    One wonders how long the panels will remain at both locations, since Gov. Scott Walker has said that Ronald Reagan is one of his heroes, and we all know what Reagan did with the solar panels Jimmy Carter had installed on the White House. The wind regulations Walker has proposed have already killed one wind farm proposal.

  2. Speaking up for Minnesota, a state with no fossil fuel resources of its own:

    1997: First state to mandate E10 statewide, which reduced some air pollutants and cut the state’s petroleum consumption.

    2002: First state to pass a biodiesel mandate. All #2 diesel sold in the state contains 5% (B5) biodiesel. That moves up to 10% (B10) in 2012 and 20% (B20) by 2015.

    2007: Minnesota passes the Next Generation Energy Act, aka 25 by 25, one of the most aggresive programs to move to renewable fuels in the nation.

    2011: Minnesota has more E85 retailers than any other state. Nearly a quarter million vehicles registered in MN can use E85.