Archive for Saturday, December 13, 1997


December 13, 1997


The Kyoto global warming treaty would impact coal-fired electric plants in Kansas, says a state legislator.

Thanks to Kyoto, the cost to flip on a light in Kansas will go up, says a Kansas legislator.

The global warming agreement developed in Kyoto, Japan -- expected to decrease the amount of coal used to produce electric power -- would eventually create higher utility bills in Kansas, which has several coal-fired power plants, says state Sen. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence.

"That gets us back to whether alternative energy, such as solar or wind power, is economically viable. And it may rekindle the debate over nuclear power," Sloan said Friday.

Sloan is a key member of a state task force that has been studying the Kansas electric industry this summer in preparation for deregulation in a few years.

Kansas has several coal-fired power plants, including KPL's Lawrence Energy Center northwest of the city and the Jeffrey Energy Center near St. Marys. Others are near Tecumseh, La Cygne and Garden City.

"The Kansas coal-fired plants are very clean-burning," Sloan said. "They've got all kind of emissions controls on them."

The problems in meeting emission-control standards in the treaty -- which must be approved by the U.S. Senate before it takes effect in the United States -- will be in the older coal-fired power plants in the northeastern part of the country, Sloan said.

"If they are closed, you would see Kansas electricity moving to those markets, or the construction of new power plants that burn natural gas," he said. "Either way, the cost of electricity will increase for all Americans. And the cost of heating Kansas homes with natural gas will increase because the power plants will have such a huge demand for gas that it will drive prices up."

Many of the Kansas coal-fired plants were built in the last 10 to 20 years.

"They burn low-sulfur Wyoming coal and they have emission smokestack scrubbers that take more of the pollutants out," Sloan said.

Robin Lampe, a spokeswoman for Western Resources, which owns KPL's Lawrence Energy Center, said the utility doesn't yet have a formal response to the Kyoto treaty.

The utility uses coal for 62 percent of its power generation, natural gas or fuel oil for 28 percent and uranium for 10 percent.

"We will not be able to fully examine an approach to meeting any proposed emission standards or the impact it might have on our customers until we fully understand the specifics of the treaty," Lampe said.

However, she said Western Resources has been closely following the global warming issue for more than a decade.

She said that in 1987 the Lawrence Energy Center's Unit 5 became the first generating plant in the country retrofitted with $4 million in new technology that reduces nitrogen oxide emissions.

The Lawrence plant produces about 10.5 percent of Western Resources' generating capacity. The plant is equipped to burn coal or natural gas. When using coal as its primary fuel, the local plant consumes about 3,000 tons daily.

-- Dave Toplikar's phone message number is 832-7151. His e-mail address is

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