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Wind plant still up in air; State senator hopeful facility and its jobs will land in Topeka

As lawmakers ended the 2008 session Thursday, they rejected a standalone bill extending the tax break beyond 2009. Topeka lawmakers say the $1 million per year tax break is aimed at a wind turbine manufacturing plant interested in locating in the capital city. The investment would bring up to 950 jobs to the area. "We know other states have put up cold hard cash," Kelly said. The name of the company hasn't been disclosed. Without the extension on the tax break, it is likely the company will look elsewhere, she said. ...A month ago, House members voted overwhelmingly to pass a bundled bill authorizing expansion of a coal-fired power plant at Holcomb and extending the sunset for the tax break meant to lure a $150 million investment to Topeka. After Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the bill, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, chastised her for costing the state "billions in opportunities."

A Topeka legislator hopes the Legislature's decision not to extend a tax break doesn't kill the city's chances to attract a wind turbine manufacturer.

"I would hope not," Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said in an interview Friday. "It (the tax break) expires in 2009. I would hope they (the company) would have confidence in us to work hard to get it in the next session. That would be my fantasy."

As lawmakers ended the 2008 session Thursday, they rejected a standalone bill extending the tax break beyond 2009. Topeka lawmakers say the $1 million per year tax break is aimed at a wind turbine manufacturing plant interested in locating in the capital city. The investment would bring up to 950 jobs to the area.

"We know other states have put up cold hard cash," Kelly said.

The name of the company hasn't been disclosed.

Without the extension on the tax break, it is likely the company will look elsewhere, she said.

The tax break originally was approved a year ago to entice Hill's Pet Nutrition to build a new Emporia plant, which is currently under construction.

The wind turbine industry is booming in the United States as energy companies look for alternatives to fossil fuels for production of... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A Topeka legislator hopes the Legislature's decision not to extend a tax break doesn't kill the city's chances to attract a wind turbine manufacturer.

"I would hope not," Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said in an interview Friday. "It (the tax break) expires in 2009. I would hope they (the company) would have confidence in us to work hard to get it in the next session. That would be my fantasy."

As lawmakers ended the 2008 session Thursday, they rejected a standalone bill extending the tax break beyond 2009. Topeka lawmakers say the $1 million per year tax break is aimed at a wind turbine manufacturing plant interested in locating in the capital city. The investment would bring up to 950 jobs to the area.

"We know other states have put up cold hard cash," Kelly said.

The name of the company hasn't been disclosed.

Without the extension on the tax break, it is likely the company will look elsewhere, she said.

The tax break originally was approved a year ago to entice Hill's Pet Nutrition to build a new Emporia plant, which is currently under construction.

The wind turbine industry is booming in the United States as energy companies look for alternatives to fossil fuels for production of electricity. At least three wind farms are under construction in Kansas. Westar Energy has made a commitment to increase its use of wind power. It is fairly common to see truckers hauling wind turbine propellers along Interstate 70 in Kansas.

"That is one of the new emerging industries," said Steve R. Jenkins, senior vice president for economic development at the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce/Go Topeka.

Jenkins declined to discuss prospects for Topeka attracting a wind turbine manufacturer.

"I can't talk about it," he said.

But Jenkins said the Legislature has to address the state's competitiveness in attracting jobs and industry.

"We're finding it increasingly difficult to compete," Jenkins said.

A month ago, House members voted overwhelmingly to pass a bundled bill authorizing expansion of a coal-fired power plant at Holcomb and extending the sunset for the tax break meant to lure a $150 million investment to Topeka. After Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the bill, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, chastised her for costing the state "billions in opportunities."

On Thursday, Sebelius issued a statement critical of Republican and Kansas Chamber of Commerce leadership for not working toward passage of the tax break.

"It is unfortunate that Kansas business owners, their employees and the state's economy will be the victims of this legislative decision made on the final day of the 2008 legislative session," Sebelius said.

A Kansas chamber official said he didn't have enough knowledge of the issue to comment.

The 47-49 vote Thursday involving the tax break was close to a majority for those legislators present at the sine die adjournment but far from the 63-vote majority needed for passage.

 


Source: http://cjonline.com/stories...

MAY 31 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/15262-wind-plant-still-up-in-air-state-senator-hopeful-facility-and-its-jobs-will-land-in-topeka
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