Archive for Sunday, November 25, 2007

Coal plant rejection expected to dominate session

November 25, 2007


Coal plants

Supporting KDHE's denial of permits:

¢ State Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence

¢ State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence

¢ Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence

¢ Rep. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City


¢ State Sen. Roger Pine, R-Lawrence

Won't say:

¢ State Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence

Lawrence lawmakers expect the Legislature will spend a lot of time fighting about two rejected coal-fired electric plants in western Kansas.

"I think we will deal with it the entire session," said state Rep. Barbara Ballard.

Last month, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby denied permits for two 700-megawatt power plants in Holcomb because of health and environmental concerns from carbon dioxide emissions. The plants would have emitted 11 million tons of CO2 annually, and 85 percent of the electric power would have been sold out-of-state.

Challenges to decision

Bremby's decision won praise from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and environmentalists nationwide.

But it stunned plant developers, Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. and its legislative supporters, which include House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, and key committee chairmen.

They argued the plants would have been among the cleanest coal-fired facilities in the nation, would have provided the transmission lines needed for development of more wind power, and given western Kansas an economic shot in the arm.

Sunflower has challenged Bremby's ruling in court, and Neufeld, Morris and others have promised legislation seeking to reverse the order when the 2008 Legislature convenes in January. The decision also has spawned a high-dollar advertising war between coal and natural gas interests.

"I expect there will be a whole lot of activity in the Legislature," said state Rep. Paul Davis, a Democrat. "I've heard there will be proposals from everything from abolishing KDHE to stripping its permit authority and putting that under the purview of Legislature.

"This is driven by legislative leadership. They have a tremendous amount of power in the Legislature, and they will try to use every bit of it to try to reverse this decision."

And Lawrence's delegation will be in the thick of the debate.

For the record, Ballard, Davis, state Sen. Marci Francisco, and state Rep. Tom Holland, all Democrats, say they supported Bremby's decision.

State Sen. Roger Pine, a Republican, opposed it, saying Bremby didn't use "sound science."

Another area Republican, state Rep. Tom Sloan, declined to say whether he supports or opposes Bremby's ruling.

'Legitimate needs'

Regardless of their views, they all agreed that rejection of the plants must be followed with a debate on how Kansas will meet its future energy needs, and what can be done to help the western Kansas economy should Bremby's decision stand.

"Western Kansas needs more electricity," Sloan said. "So if you are not going to allow that plant to be built, how will you meet their legitimate needs?"

Pine said, "There will be significant need for additional electricity in Kansas over the next 25 years, and it would be foolish for us not to plan for that."

Holland said the debate over the coal-burning plants "will be good for the state. We really need to make long-term decisions."

Francisco said Bremby's decision made sense because if the federal government establishes CO2 regulations and taxes, the cost of coal-fired electricity will increase dramatically.

But Francisco said she recognizes that the decision cost western Kansas some economic development.

"I think the speaker and president want jobs and investment and want to see healthy growth in that part of the state, and I want to work with them on ways to accomplish that," she said.

Ballard said although she supported Bremby's decision, supporters of the plants make a good argument.

"What I'm concerned about is that it is going to be an east Kansas versus west Kansas thing. The people who are supporting these plants are very passionate, and they can demonstrate the need," she said.


average 10 years, 5 months ago

Sunflower is largely out-of-state investors and the power is 85% committed out-of-state. When western Kansas grows a legitimate need (projections are hazy as to whether they will or won't), they'll have to build another power plant to fulfill those needs.

But, Bremby and Sebelius's authority to stop it is pretty weak. And, after they are struck down (and it is confirmed that Kansas has little enforceable environmental law), expect a retreat on the "clean coal" technology on Sunflower (more mercury and SOx downwind) and the third unit (also enabling Denver suburbs at 5c/kWh) to reappear.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 5 months ago

Sen Roger Pine does not know what he is talking about. Westar staff has said many times at public forums if consumers would practice conservation there likely would not be a need for more power plants not only in Kansas but elsewhere. Why will there be a need for more electric power in western Kansas aka who is going to move there?

Build wind power that will spread economic development throughout western Kansas!

7 ways to switch america

Clean Energy Blueprint Benefits Farmers and Rural Economies

Electric rates increase mostly due to rate payers leaving lights on where not necessary all day long . It would appear that too many americans think so long as money is available what the hell does it matter if arrogance, inflation and pollution are the result of wasteful practices. I am told that some think once moving into energy efficient lighting or HVAC systems it's still okay to be wasteful. Why throw more money at silly politicians and crooked CEO's.

Instead invest in the home with new windows, insulation in the ceiling, 97% HVAC systems and computerized thermostats. Why throw more money to crooked CEO's and uninformed or bought off politicians?

Cut off the lights,save money and cut off special interest financing of elections. Sen Roger Pine was not a green or conservation type thinker as a long time board member of our local chamber of commerce. He then moved on to a State Senate position. Sen. Pine likes to support sprawl. Wonder if he has investments in coal fired plants?

Oracle_of_Rhode 10 years, 5 months ago

Kansas shouldn't be the carbon toilet of the Midwest. If Colorado wants to pollute the world to power their McMansions and ski lifts, they can damn well build their own power plants in Colorado -- not Western Kansas. The Kansas Legislature is trying to sell out the children of Kansas bu supporting this plan, which is an insult to common sense.

mick 10 years, 5 months ago

It will just be a waste of time and money for the legislature to pursue this. Federal law will take precedence in this interstate matter.

toefungus 10 years, 5 months ago

Kansas has no stomach for growth and greatness. It is too busy fighting over the crumbs.

Logan5 10 years, 5 months ago

I find it hard to believe that Tom Sloan is undecided on this issue. Perhaps we should help him to make up his mind.


clyde_never_barks 10 years, 5 months ago

First it was cool, then it got warmer, now it is cool again. Cool - why do you avoid the questions posed by warmer....some of us would like to know the answers. Perhaps warmer is onto something here.

fetch 10 years, 5 months ago

Logan5: "I find it hard to believe that Tom Sloan is undecided on this issue."

Maybe he is opposed to it like the other Lawrence legislators, but doesn't want to PO the speaker of the house, or the chairman of the utilities committee, both who are outspoken supporters. I imagine Mr. Sloan would want to remain on the utilities committee, instead of being removed from it.

Or maybe he really understands it is a complex issue, or as Getting Warmer has suggested, that the renewal of the Lawrence-Westar and Jefferies plant are up soon.

Chocoholic 10 years, 5 months ago

I've often wondered how much electricity is wasted due to so-called energy "vampires" in our homes/offices/schools etc. These are the things that stay semi-"on" even though the unit itself is turned "off," like a wireless router, cable modem, kitchen stove and/or microwave clock, cable TV box, video game console........etc. etc. These things are made so that it's difficult to turn them completely off, either because it's a pain in the butt to unplug them (since there's usually no switch) or because if you do unplug them completely they lose all their settings. Seems like a mindless waste of energy to me, and one that the makers of these products might fix with a little more thought.

fetch 10 years, 5 months ago

Choc, I too have heard those "vampires" on a cumulative basis are just terrible. And I just hate having them all....especially when they have slightly different voltages and plugs for whatever.

fetch 10 years, 5 months ago

...and the internal vampires are even worse... like on TV's.

riverdrifter 10 years, 5 months ago

Oracle_of_Rhode (Anonymous) says it best, and Way to Go OOR:

"Kansas shouldn't be the carbon toilet of the Midwest. If Colorado wants to pollute the world to power their McMansions and ski lifts, they can damn well build their own power plants in Colorado - not Western Kansas. The Kansas Legislature is trying to sell out the children of Kansas bY supporting this plan, which is an insult to common sense."

And, they can also use CO water resources to do it. Every single irrigator in SW Kansas should be adamantly opposed to this. Colorado: want this? Use your groundwater, pollute your air.

Ken Lassman 10 years, 5 months ago

Seems the feds were trying to help us out even before Sebelius' decision--why don't our legislators get on the ball and join up? September 28, 2007 []

U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada is calling on President Bush to provide additional financing options for the building of new power lines and interconnections to enable the transmission of renewable energy from remote areas of the country to those with growing electricity demand.

This approach, which has been pioneered in Texas under the name Competitive Renewable Energy Zone, would solve the "chicken-or-the-egg" transmission dilemma: renewable energy developers are reluctant to build projects in areas that have renewable resources but lack transmission, while transmission developers do not want to build lines to such areas without any generation facilities present.

The Clean Renewable Energy and Economic Development Act, which Reid introduced last week, would direct the President of the United States to identify areas of the country, especially rural areas, where renewable energy resources could generate at least 1,000 MW of electricity.

"I recently came out in opposition to the proposed coal power plants," said Reid. "But I want to do more than just voice my opinion. I want to be part of the solution... This legislation puts to rest the false assumption that the only way to finance transmission lines is through building dirty coal power plants."

Under the legislation, the Federal power marketing administrations, like the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), would have a year to identify the types of high-voltage or interconnection lines needed to access the renewable power in those zones.

If, after two years, no private entities step forward to fund the construction of transmission lines to the renewable energy zones, then WAPA and the four other Federal power administrations (Bonneville, Southeastern, Southwestern, and Tennessee Valley Authority), would each be granted an additional $10 billion in bonding authority to finance those lines. ...Reid's legislation would also require the power administrations to start integrating renewable energy and energy efficiency into all of their programs, including finding ways to reduce petroleum consumption through electricifying the transportation sector using renewable power and encouraging more distributed generation.

The estimated cost of building connecting the northern and southern grids is about $600 million. That is roughly the cost that ratepayers will pay for importing coal for just two years at the proposed coal plants. Those plants will burn at least $12-20 billion worth of coal and ratepayers money over their 40-year lifespan, though most coal plants last much longer.,,,

clyde_never_barks 10 years, 5 months ago

warmer says - ...Get a friggin clue Cool. Your posts show lack of knowledge about what you post and hence little issue credibility.

I wasn't aware that cool had any credibility!

hornhunter 10 years, 5 months ago

warmer, I think cool is getting hotter. Could you imagine what solar panels would do to straw homes? That would be like using a magnifing glass on toilet paper. Ha Ha Ha

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