Archive for Monday, January 29, 2007

Coal plant moratorium likely to fail

Sunflower head says bill would kill company plans

January 29, 2007, 12:01 p.m. Updated January 29, 2007, 12:59 p.m.


— A proposed two-year moratorium on coal-fired plants will probably fail in a legislative committee, lawmakers said Monday.

Both sides of the measure testified before the House Energy and Utilities Committee.

House Bill 2219 would declare a two-year moratorium on construction of coal-burning plants. During that time, the Legislative Division of Post Audit would conduct a study on the health effects of emissions from coal-fired plants and the proposed depletion of groundwater.

Rep. Vaughn Flora's bill comes as state officials are considering a project by Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build three 700-megawatt coal-fired plants in western Kansas.

Sunflower's chairman and chief executive officer Earl Watkins said if the legislation became law, it would kill the company's project.

"If you pass this bill, you won't simply delay a $5 billion project that we've been talking about for years to bring to Kansas. You will, in fact, kill it," Watkins said.

After the hearing, several committee members said the chance of the legislation was doubtful.

"It's not so good," Flora, D-Topeka, said of his bill's chances. "But I guess you never know."

State Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, and a member of the committee, said he doubted the panel would approve it.

He declined to say how he would vote. The committee may work on the bill Friday.

Opponents of the proposed plants in western Kansas said the facilities would hurt the health of Kansans and economy by adding to global climate change through carbon dioxide emissions.

They urged the committee to focus on renewable energy sources, such as wind energy.

"With all the clean alternatives that Kansas has, it is time that they be used," said Tom Thompson of the Sierra Club. "It is time for Kansas to be part of the solution instead of the problem," he said.

Ray Dean, professor emeritus at Kansas University, said the ill effects of coal energy are never considered when the industry figures its costs.

"Air pollution from coal combustion kills people, dries the soil, destabilizes the biosphere, and disrupts the economy," Dean said.

But leaders of Sunflower Electric Power Corp. said the proposed legislation would not only kill their project, but hinder further development of wind energy.

Sunflower president Watkins said that with the additional plants near Holcomb would come expanded transmission lines that could carry energy produced by wind power.

Without the proposed plants, that transmission capacity will not be available, he said.


preebo 11 years, 4 months ago

Kansas as closed-minded as you think...

I am not surpised by this outcome. Kansas has been and will remain behind the curve when it comes to innovation. There is a reason states like California and New York laugh. It's because they can always count on Kansas to be the uneducated, uninformed, bumbling little brother at the family fuctions of the states.

I issue a challenge to anyone reading this post. When the results are issued by the committee on the moritorium check the votes opposing the moritorium against those who took campaign funding from Sunflower Electric or Touchstone Energy Cooperative. I am willing to bet some people were paid on this one.

afred 11 years, 4 months ago

This upsets me a great deal. Why is some compromise not being sought? Why doesn't the state grant a fat contract to Sunflower to install transmission lines for wind power? Why don't they negotiate a shorter period for the moratorium, like a year?

Does anybody else consider the decision to build a state of the art facility to use an antiquated method of generating energy a bit short sighted? The world is clearly becoming more ecologically aware, and as the effects of using non-renewable energy compound, that awareness grows exponentially.

There has GOT to be a better solution. There just has to be.

Patrick Wilbur 11 years, 4 months ago

preebo - you may be right. This is true of many issues, not just this one. It is wise for all voters and concerned citizens to know who is funding campaigns. You can check this out at the Government Ethics Commission (GEC) website (

Also - anyone can contact the House Energy and Utilities Committee members to voice an opinion (pro or con).

BTW - I don't know if I would want Flora sponsoring a bill right now. He's having some off-campus issues right now.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

"If you pass this bill, you won't simply delay a $5 billion project that we've been talking about for years to bring to Kansas. You will, in fact, kill it,"

It wouldn't be the moratorium that would kill it. Within the next couple of years, there will be much tighter controls on coal-burning power plants, and Sunflower is rushing construction so that they can be "grandfathered" in on the idiocy of current BushCo policy.

afred 11 years, 4 months ago

You can check out campaign finance at

But Sunflower electric is a non-profit cooperative. I didn't see any contributions from them, nor any of the names that are in the cooperative, which can be found at Sunflower's website (ain't the internet grand?!). This was a very cursory search however, and I would be willing to bet the if you dig deep enough, you can find someplace where money has changed hands. Furthermore, I'm pretty sure the political machine doesn't run on campaign contributions alone. I would imagine that there are many ways to scratch backs in the capital. It's frustrating that the average constituent has to do so much research just to get a clear picture.

I'm going to write my legislator. Right now.

afred 11 years, 4 months ago

This is also a cool site to see lobbyist expenditures. Still nothing pops out that relates to Sunflower Electric

hipper_than_hip 11 years, 4 months ago

"There has GOT to be a better solution. There just has to be."

The solution you're looking for would be Wolf Creek Unit Number 2.

preebo 11 years, 4 months ago

Sunflower is a Non-Profit? Are you sure? Just because it is a subsidiary of Touchstone Energy doesn't make it a non-profit, and it certainly isn't one of those 507 groups like the Swiftboat Veterans. So, as far as I am aware they are required to disclose any campaign contributions a la McCain - Feingold.

...again I am iffy on the Non-profit status of Sunflower.

windy 11 years, 4 months ago

Preebo, you are a F.D.A, Sunflower is a NON-PROFIT, if you do not know this by now maybe you need to quit talking. afred, and for talking to our reps., it does not work, they do not respond. They are to worried about their future in politics and how fast and high up they can get.
California, on the other hand needs to remember where the power that supplies there state comes from. Several years back they built 4 huge coal burners in Utah, because they needed power and the dumb a** state did the same thing they are triing to do to KS. as they did to themselves.

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