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

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

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