As Kansans, we have the privilege of living, working and playing in a pioneering — and picturesque — state, which is often misguidedly described by travelers as flyover country. If those same travelers had joined me — along with KEC staff — last month as we traversed the state for electric co-op meetings, they would have learned firsthand the truth about Kansas based on personal observations rather than historical stereotypes.
I kicked off my columns this year with two goals in mind: to inform and to educate co-op consumer/members, policymakers and the public about topics potentially negatively affecting Kansas electric co-ops and their ability to provide reliable, affordable and safe power.
Why is that important and why should you care?
Kansas electric cooperatives drive economic benefits throughout the state including the local communities they serve. From 2018 to 2022, Kansas distribution co-ops and the generation and transmission co-ops spent $7.2 billion on capital investments, operations and maintenance activities to ensure the continued reliability of your power. In this same time period, the co-ops retired $136.9 million in capital credits paid back to you, an owner and member of your electric co-op. In addition over that same five-year period, the statewide impact of the Kansas electric co-ops included:
- $6.3 billion to Kansas’ Gross State Product (GSP).
- An average of 7,636 jobs in Kansas each year.
- $2.8 billion in labor income in Kansas.
- $394.2 million in federal taxes.
- $658 million in state taxes.
Perhaps more important is the local community impact within the counties served by the electric co-ops:
- $6.1 billion in value added to the local economy.
- $2.7 billion in local labor income.
- $539.3 million in local taxes.
Kansas electric co-ops are drivers of economic growth at a state level but more importantly — and critically — they are an integral part of powering the rural Kansas economy today and in the future.