Archive for Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Power plant resistance grows

Colorado conservation group criticizes Holcomb project

December 13, 2006


Opposition to proposed coal-burning plants in west Kansas isn't limited to Kansas.

On Tuesday, a Colorado conservation group released an analysis that criticized the project.

The proposal would place three 700-megawatt plants near Sunflower Electric Power Corp.'s existing 700-megawatt plant in Holcomb.

Two of the new plants will be owned by Denver-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission, which will sell the electricity to its cooperatives in Colorado. Tri-State also plans to build a 700-megawatt plant in southeastern Colorado.

Western Resource Advocates, a nonprofit conservation organization, said Tri-State's wholesale electric rates will jump at least 64 percent in the next five years to pay for the estimated $5 billion project.

"This is a huge increase for me and other customers to have to swallow for something we don't support," said Chris Calwell, a ratepayer of Durango, Colo.-based La Plata Electric Association.

Western Resources also said that the plants were unnecessary because Tri-State has adequate electric capacity and that relying on coal-fired power was risky because the environmental damage done by the plants may require heavier and costlier regulations in the future.

The group called for investment in renewable energy, citing a report by Raymond Dean, emeritus engineering professor at Kansas University, who said there is enough wind potential in western Kansas to equal the output of the proposed plants.

"Community wind development is the best way to enlist broad participation among the people in western Kansas in the popular development of this enormous natural resource: wind," Dean said.

Tri-State spokesman Jim Van Someren disagreed with the report.

He said the new plants will stabilize energy prices because many times Tri-State must purchase power on the open market when customer demand outstrips capacity.

"That is putting pressure on our rates," Someren said.

As far as the risk of relying on coal, he said the company's board analyzed its options for more than a year before deciding to build the new plants.

"Obviously, Western Resources doesn't support what we are doing. Basically, it comes down to technology. They don't like coal," he said.

In Kansas, environmentalists and religious groups have opposed the plant proposal, saying the reliance on burning coal will add to greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. The Lawrence City Commission also weighed in against the project because of environmental concerns.

Sunflower, which is seeking the state permit for the plants, has said the project is needed to keep up with demand for electricity, and it will be much cleaner-burning than older plants. Many west Kansas communities and officials have supported the proposal.

The public comment period on the project ends Friday. After that, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment will determine whether to allow the plants to be built.


Richard Heckler 11 years, 4 months ago

China's Sunshine Boys By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN So here's a little news quiz: Guess who's the seventh-richest man in China today, with a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at $1.43 billion? Answer: Shi Zhengrong. Now guess what he does. Real estate? No. Banking? No. Manufacturing for Wal-Mart? No. Construction? No. Mr. Shi is China 's leading maker of silicon photovoltaic solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity. Yes, the seventh-richest man in China is a green entrepreneur! It should only happen in America . Mr. Shi thinks, as I do, that renewable clean power - wind, solar, bio-fuels - is going to be the growth industry of the 21st century, and he wants to make sure that China and his company, Suntech Power Holdings, are the leaders. Only 43 years old and full of energy himself, Mr. Shi hopes to do for solar energy what China did for tennis shoes: drive down the cost so that millions of people who could not afford solar photovoltaic panels will be able to do so.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 4 months ago

WRA Release Two Reports

Tri-State Coal Plants Costly And Not Needed

Western Resource Advocates (WRA) and the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) are challenging a proposal to build three large new coal-fired power plants and associated transmission lines at a cost of $5 billion. The new plants have been proposed by the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, a wholesale electric power supplier in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

The Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association's Resource Plan: Analysis and Alternatives finds that there are better ways to meet growing energy demands, and that the proposed new plants are unnecessary.

KS 11 years, 4 months ago

I guess the far-left is just going to have to freeze! If PETA wouldn't get involved, I guess they could go to Lake Clinton and capture all the little critters and put them into a big cage on a tread mill. You are correct, right-thinker, when they get cold, they will blame it on the US Govt. and expect them to do something about it. They don't have to build a power line west of the KS/CO line, if that would help those folks out there too.

When did they stop teaching logic in grammar schools?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

"When did they stop teaching logic in grammar schools?"

That's a hoot, coming from someone whose apparent best argument is to create a strawman.

KWCoyote 11 years, 4 months ago

How about a compromise? One coal plant and also a windfarm. Western Resources, the utility firm, owns Jeffrey Energy Center which has space for 6 coal plants, and it has adequate water in the eastern part of the state which isn't really hurting for water. It also has existing coal handling facilities. The need for jobs I appreciate, but location is also a factor to heed in development. If you want a facility that uses water, put it near a good supply of water, the use of which isn't causing environmental damage. Finally, consider the jobs of building and operating a major western KS and eastern Colorado windfarm development.

ASBESTOS 11 years, 4 months ago

We aren't going to need these plants, as Texas is reportedly putting in 13-15 coal power plants, and about 2-3 Nuke plants. Energy prices will drop quite a bit in the future with this added power generation capacity.

budwhysir 11 years, 4 months ago

I thought we where going to go to wind farms and solar power???

Anyhow, logic grammar is just not part of a political article. Politicaly speaking, we need coal fired power plants to stay in place due to the taxes and regulations that are in place.

In order to make a change, we should establish a tax based fund to establish a grass roots organization to research the benefits of coal fired power plants. This could be funded by all companies that continue to pay min. wage for jobs provided.

A word of caution, wind farms and solar power facilities should not be built in flood planes

KUDB99 11 years, 4 months ago

I initially thought this was about jobs in Western Kansas as well. But, let's be honest, it's about money in Sunflowers' pockets. They are going to sell this excess power to the power starved coasts. It's going to be a much bigger windfall if Sunflower doesn't have to deal with the added costs of Green Technology.

I'm still an advocate for clean Nuclear technology. Breeder Reactors provide power and are lot better about the amount of radioactive wastes they produce. Wind and Solar is still the best, but there is always a concern about base power projections.

The future is going to show that everyone will have solar panels and wind generators on their houses, and will only have to draw from the grid sparingly, while, at times, they may actually provide more power back on the grid to be used by someone's to a GREEN WORLD!!!

snowWI 11 years, 4 months ago

These proposed plants would provide electricity to the energy greedy front range of Colorado. The tri-state electric cooperative is taking advantage of Kansas because Colorado has stricter environmental regulations. What is Sunflower going to do when the carbon dioxide emitted from the plants is federally regulated? The external health costs and climate change costs ARE NEVER INCLUDED IN THE COSTS OF NEW COAL PLANTS. These reasons are why coal is still "cheap" Kansas needs to invest in our energy future by building new transmission lines in rural areas before we consider old pulverized coal plants, that have no way of capturing carbon dioxide. Rural economic development will have a better chance of occuring if we invest in wind energy now, instead of waiting another 50-75 years before more coal plants go off-line.

Emily Hadley 11 years, 4 months ago

"Power plant resistance grows"

You have to watch your Ohms--that'll get you every time.

energyguy 11 years, 4 months ago

Ok...It's so interesting reading all your posts....what it comes down to is this: either be willing to pay higher prices for energy (yes, wind energy IS more expensive than coal) and not whine about it, or accept the coal plants.

In a perfect we'd have all the energy we need, and at an affordable price, without any pollution damage, without any animal or vegitation damage, and without any "eye sores". I agree, that would be nice. But, GET A CLUE!! We're not in a perfect green world!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

"(yes, wind energy IS more expensive than coal)"

Well, no, it's not. Not if you count everything-- but that wouldn't put money in your pocket at someone (as in everyone) else's expense.

questionme 11 years, 4 months ago

As a native of Southwest Kansas, I would like this to be built. You can sit around in committees all day, sitting around for the light to go on in your heads, wondering how we are going to get through this dilemma. But the truth is, when the light never comes on, and it's cold out, what are you going to do? For once quit sitting on the merry-go-round of 'what if's' and 'let's talk about it more' and do something. Spend a few years and go out and try to tell the people there they need to consider wind or solar power. They could care less. What they want are jobs and a better life.

Nothing is going to change the environment now. Unless EVERYONE changes their lifestyles, we're screwed regardless.

The bottom line is that unless this passes, what jobs are you going to provide to feed my relatives? What are you going to do to make sure my cousins are able to go to college? You have already take the money from the schools down there. What more do you want?

What do you suggest? Another committee or study to look into this?

Instead of focusing on what will happen if this is built, think about what will happen if it isn't built.

And those 8 states ... the electricity is going to them. Biting the hand that feeds you never creates progess. But you already knew that.

energyguy 11 years, 4 months ago

At least you got one thing right.......definetly a BOZO!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

Yep, and I welcome you, energyguy, as my fellow bozo.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

Nothing but false choices and strawmen arguments, questionme.

questionme 11 years, 4 months ago

Ok, so I understand how my point can be considered a straw-man argument. However, instead of nit-picking my point, try suggesting a solution. My solution is build the plant. I see jobs, much needed economic growth in an area of minimal opportunities, and a resource for much needed areas of the country. Unfortunately the main byproduct is pollution, but that is one aspect that neither of us can control, especially in a society where excess is promoted in all facets of our lives.

I want to hear options that will give the area equal economic growth while still filling the energy deficit. Trying to promote a green society is futile.

Again, solutions. Give me a reasonable, working, and feasible solution and I will let this go.

windy 11 years, 4 months ago

Snow, large scale wind farms could be built in your back yard too, but you sure do not make that suggestion, it's always has to be somewhere you probably will not ever be. If you are the man with the plan, maybe you could tell us this, Just how many jobs does a wind farm at your scale employ????? ******Snow said, 'These wind farms give rural counties a large economic boost instead of concentrating all of the proposed power plants in one rural county'. Who benifits from this, the land owner or the whole county?

snowWI 11 years, 4 months ago

questionme, Large-scale wind farms can be built in southwest Kansas along some of the areas that have existing transmission lines. These wind farms give rural counties a large economic boost instead of concentrating all of the proposed power plants in one rural county. More transmission lines need to be built in the rural counties, but that would still cost money. However, that would be money well spent since many other states in our region are far more advanced in the development of wind energy. Outmigration out of Western Kansas has been happening for decades and most of these jobs in Finney County would be filled by the highly mobile immigrant labor force. What I am saying is that Kansas still needs some time to develop our much needed transmission line infrastrucure before we consider the proposed coal plants that would stay on-line for 50-75 years with no chance at reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The large-scale wind farms would give a jobs boost and an economic boost to many more rural counties in Kansas.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

"Again, solutions. Give me a reasonable, working, and feasible solution and I will let this go."

Increasing efficiency and eliminating waste is the single most feasible action we can take in addressing our energy problems, and I admit that your all-too-common defeatist attitude towards addressing that problem is a hurdle, but not necessarily an insurmountable one.

Building wind farms in western Kansas that would produce comparable amounts of electricity is eminently feasible. The technology is there, what's lacking is the political will, thanks largely to the large coal deposits that companies like Sunflower unwisely invested in. They need to lump their coal investment (pun intended) and get to meeting the needs of the 21st century, not the 19th century.

"large scale wind farms could be built in your back yard too, but you sure do not make that suggestion, it's always has to be somewhere you probably will not ever be."

Strawman argument. While the wind conditions in this part of the state aren't as good as elsewhere, they are still pretty good, and wind generation should be built here, too, and maybe we can shut down the coal plant west of Lawrence.

questionme 11 years, 4 months ago

Currently what I have been reading is that they are proposing to build more efficient plants that produce less waste. I feel that this is a step in the right direction. While I would like to see a more environmentally friendly solution be implemented, there nothing available (minus a nuclear facility) can match the output proposed or required.

With wind energy costing just as much as coal energy, and with much less energy output, I don't see the true benifit of wind energy. Yes, it may be nice to imagine a world that functions on renewable energy, I just don't feel your expectations are realistic. I am afraid that there isn't enough available land in the country to build wind farms that could match the output of our nation's coal fired plants.

How about this for an idea ... instead of trying to improve or change the source, why not educate and change the user. We wouldn't be in this situation, nor be having this discussion, if people would be held accountible for their energy usage. People should take responsibilty for their usage and their should be regulations that allow people a certain amount of energy on an annual basis. The people who use the most, should pay the most. On the flip-side, have more programs in place that reward people for using less than the average person. Why not fix the problem now then work our way to the solution?

Ok, let me just stop you now. I bet I have committed another fallacy in my argument. But instead of thinking about a solution that benefits the rest of the state and country, I am finding that you would rather call out the literary tactics and arguments of people who support this issue. After biting my tounge this long, I can't hold it in any longer.

I believe that your argument that wind energy is our most logical engery choice falls under the fallacy 'wishful thinking'. While it may be nice to believe that wind energy is the best alternative to meeting the country's energy deficit, it doesn't quite meet the same demands in output and cost effectiveness.

I would also say that by always calling me (and others) out on our arguments, this falls under the 'Appeal to ridcule' fallacy.

By knowing that I am in fact a native of Southwest Kansas and passionate about this topic, you are inadvertantly (or intentionally for all I know) mocking me to try and instigate an 'appeal of emotion'. Unfortunately, with my disection of your arguments, I am finding your whole point to be an ad hominem, and therefore concluding that that you do not have a true solution or conclusion, but rather enough time to disect our argument and call out our logical mishaps.

deec 11 years, 4 months ago

I live in Hays. You have not addressed the depletion of the water supply which this project would cause.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

questionme-- You're still putting up strawmen. I have never said that wind energy is the only solution, and I totally agree with you that reducing energy consumption is the most critical component in addressing our energy "problems."

Coal and natural gas can also still remain a part of the energy puzzle, but just based on CO2 emissions alone, we should be cutting our use of them by at least 2/3, and only extremely clean-burning plants should be permitted to be built, and only to replace older, more polluting facilities.

As deec points out, there is also a water issue with such plants, expecially this one, in an area that really doesn't have the water resources that justify locating one there.

That's already two strikes against this facility, and the second one is a pop-foul that KDHE should field easily to put this thing out.

In western Kansas, more than almost anywhere else in the world, wind is the most viable solution.

questionme 11 years, 4 months ago

Just curious, but how many wind generators would need to be built to match this development?

I understand that water is an issue, but to answer that I have to turn the the suit between Kansas vs. Colorado and the release of water through the John Martin reservoir. Colorado has not kept it's part of the deal and is keeping the water to feed the farmers in eastern Colorado. Should they keep up their end of the deal, water may not be as bad a problem as it is right now. Seeing how they are large supporters of this project, I would like to see more cooperation from the other side of the border.

I would have to say, though, that seeing the current output of the two plants combined and the age of the current plant, I would like to think that Sunflower is phasing out the current plant. While this wouldn't provide the decrease you are looking for, it would give them plenty of time to construct more wind generators to make up the difference. Add in the reduced emissions from the new plants, and I would like to believe that there is a viable solution for the next 50 years.

energyguy 11 years, 4 months ago

Do any of you have any idea how much water is already being used in the Holcomb area for irrigation purposes? I encourage you to drive through the area on a hot July afternoon. What you will see is the same picture you will see nearly every day from late April through early September. The irrigation water being consumed far exceeds the amount of water that will be required for the power plants. Also, Hays and other areas are not even in the same portion of the aquifer -- it will do nothing to help of hurt your already lacking water supply.

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