Governor’s order takes energy-saving steps

Executive directive aims to improve government's efficiency, recycling efforts

? By requiring everything from using smaller cars to embedding energy conservation into new college buildings, an executive directive by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius will change the way state government operates, officials say.

“There is no more effective or environmentally appropriate way to address energy shortages, increasing costs, air pollution and climate change than using less energy,” Sebelius said.

Sebelius said energy efficiency and conservation would be among her top priorities during her second term in office.

Officials last week briefed lawmakers on steps that will be taken under the executive directive.

Joe Harkins, Sebelius’ energy adviser, said studies showed that nearly 30 percent of all energy could be saved through conservation.

“It’s high time that Kansas state government takes the lead,” Harkins said. “A huge amount of energy could be conserved, greenhouse gases could be reduced and money can be saved.”

When the state makes a purchase, it will be done with an eye toward saving energy, whether it’s buying or renting fuel-efficient cars or energy-saving appliances.

All computers not in use for a period of four or more hours will be shut off, and the state will require energy audits on all leased state buildings.

The directive will expand recycling in state government and a program that enables public agencies – including state agencies, cities, counties and schools – to secure tax-exempt financing for energy-saving projects.

Sometimes the low bid on a contract is not the best bid when considering long-term energy expenses, said Susan Duffy, executive director of the Kansas Corporation Commission.

Making the cut

Here are a few ways the state plans to cut energy use in government:¢ Energy efficiency will be considered for all purchased items, such as fuel-efficient cars or energy-saving appliances.¢ All computers not in use for a period of four or more hours will be shut off.¢ Energy audits will be required on all leased state buildings.

“We’re going to have to change our thinking on a lot of this,” Duffy said.

Another part of the effort requires the state to evaluate whether it should join the Chicago Climate Exchange, which is a legally binding system of greenhouse gas emission reduction and trading.

Under the state directive, questions about fuel efficiency will be added to the written test for a driver’s license. Officials said they would put those questions together after the legislative session ends in April or May.

Members of the House Energy and Utilities Committee said one way to increase fuel efficiency was to tell state employees to slow down when driving a state vehicle.

“I have cars pass me on the road with state tags going far above the speed limit,” said Chairman Carl Holmes, R-Liberal.

Officials said the Kansas Department of Administration would survey state employees, including legislators, for energy-saving recommendations.