Archive for Monday, February 18, 2008

Lawrence legislator upset over deal between KSU-Sunflower plant developers

February 18, 2008


— State Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said Monday an incentive offered by Sunflower Electric Power Corp. and announced during debate on a bill sought by the company "kind of smells."

Sunflower Electric has been lobbying for a bill that would allow it to build two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas.

Near the end of debate in the House on a bill that would allow the plants, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, told lawmakers about a memorandum of understanding between Sunflower Electric and Kansas State University.

Under the proposal, Neufeld said, Sunflower Electric will commit to KSU at least $250,000 a year for 10 years for research on bioscience, energy and conservation.

But there's a catch.

If the Kansas Department of Health and Environment doesn't approve Sunflower Electric's permit to build the plants by June 1, the deal is off.

"We will lose that financing," Neufeld said.

Davis, who opposed the bill, said the offer was inappropriate.

"I think it's in poor taste to dangle a contribution to a state university in front of the state Legislature on the eve of a debate on a major bill like this, and then to also say, 'If you don't pass the bill I want, we are not going to make this contribution,'" Davis said.

But Steve Miller, a spokesman for Sunflower Electric, said there was nothing inappropriate about the memorandum of understanding.

Miller said if legislation allowing the plants to be built isn't passed, then Sunflower would not have the money to invest in the bioenergy center.

"If we don't have a deal, we can't proceed. It's that simple," he said.


absolutelyridiculous 10 years, 2 months ago

I wish I hadn't just read this. Verifies that Sunflower is just as corrupt as the legistlature that will probably approve it.

Can we NOT have some integrity anymore?

dirkleisure 10 years, 2 months ago

I'm pretty certain that is called a bribe.

From what I've heard from Miller and Watkins, Sunflower is in excellent financial shape and doesn't need to coal plant for its finances. It needs to coal plant for the good of its customers.

You would think they'd be freely giving the money already.

justthefacts 10 years, 2 months ago

Oooh. This smacks of bribery. That's not a trend we want to see encouraged. Let's hope state authorities make all their decisions based upon something more then dollars being donated to other causes they support! If this kind of thing becomes the norm, be ready to have lobbyists lining up to "contribute" to lots of good causes (with strings attached of course).

Richard Heckler 10 years, 2 months ago

The high dollar coal plants may have difficulty being financed. Such that put a stop to nuke plants.

Ratepayers get screwed big time on high dollar energy plants.

Health Insurance rates could increase in these immediate areas as well.

Hey legislators do the math.

Kansas can only hope some of our coal loving legislators stupid comments never go beyond the borders of Topeka.

Joe Hyde 10 years, 2 months ago

Bottom line is still this: Eighty-five percent of the power generated by these two plants is earmarked for sale to neighboring states -- states that want the power but have already voted against letting Sunflower build these plants within their own borders due to serious concerns about environmental pollution.

By shifting the site of construction into Kansas, Sunflower hopes our legislature will continue its historical practice of letting our environment be polluted by whoever wants to do it (and our groundwater and surface waters depleted at the same time).

And no surprise! Consistent with past history, our legislature is again holding piously to attitudes that have made Kansas the equivalent of an emerging Third World country with respect to ignoring or postponing environmental protections.

I hope Gov. Sebilius has a new ink cartridge in her pen and with it puts her signature to a veto of this bill. A veto earns our state the respect of surrounding states and educates young Kansans on the political seriousness of protecting our environment.

Steve Jacob 10 years, 2 months ago

We probally need more plants. Kind of like oil plants. We can't build any anymore, and the old ones ares getting worse, and are having more problems.

Coal or Nuke plants? Take your pick.

yankeelady 10 years, 2 months ago

Why does this surprise anyone? These companies are so used to getting what they want it is almost obscene. The arrogance of their "offer" is amazing. All they are interested in is profit, not clean air, not the aquifer, not the well being of the people of Kansas.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 2 months ago

Kansas has wind,sun water with which to produce energy. Kansas has farmland with which to produce materials for Bio Mass energy

Why not let Kansans make more money for Kansans instead of Wyoming coal corporations?

Why haul in materials that produce extreme toxic materials?

Nobody posted any remarks demeaning the intelligence of western kansans only those legislators who made remarks before obviously not doing their homework...who may or not be from western Kansas.

These legislators are screwing many western Kansas,communities/constituents out of money aka economic growth. Western Kansas is more than only Holcomb.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 2 months ago

I doubt there would be any opposition to shutting down the local coal fired plant for a Bio Mass operation in addition to far more refined hydro power through Bowersock. Tomorrow would be good.

yankeelady 10 years, 2 months ago

Works for me, just because we have a dirty outdated coal plant here doesn't make it right to build another.

Bill Griffith 10 years, 2 months ago

SRJ reflects many folks thinking that we either need more coal or more nuke plants. It is understandable to foresee a future with that choice, since for large baseload that has been much of the past. However, let me put forth a different scenario that may make some sense. First, we ramp up energy efficiency to stop most if not all new electrical growth. Impossible!? Well, Vermont reversed their electric growth last year while increasing their GDP using only this method. Secondly, windpower penetration can be brought up to 15% if not more, adding some baseload (yes, baseload) as well as other additional power. Third, and this may be new for many folks: Vehicle to Grid (V2G) power. Hybrid-electric cars can be designed to plug in to accept power, or to deliver power back to the grid. Fleet vehicles would be a logical place to be able to add baseload power back to the grid. For instance, at 10kW per vehicle, 10 million vehicles would supply a stand-by capacity of 100,000 megawatts, the equivalent of 100 nuclear power plants. 10 million vehicles would only be about 3% of the vehicles on the road in 2050 (yeesh). PG&E is doing a trial run on this technology this year to work out the kinks. I am not going to touch on solar in this post, but as a baseload and peak demand power supply, it will be in high demand in the next few years. Nanotechnology is apparently providing the price breakthrough we are looking for. The question now is how fast can market penetration be attained. The key to this concept is to look at our energy puzzle as 5-8 pie slices rather than just two.

Dwight_Schrute 10 years, 2 months ago

My question is how much does the negative electric growth cost to implement.

Vermont only has 625,000 residents inside 2000 square miles - so about 65 persons per sq mile. By contrast Kansas has 2,764,000 residents inside 82,282 square miles - so about 38 persons per sq mile. The numbers would say Kansas has an advantage, but it is more expensive to get power to those areas of Kansas where there are only 6 people per square mile (there are 33 of them).

I like your observations on Nanotech.

Overall, I think your friends at AFP would come unglued at the amount of dollars that would be required to subsidize the changes, and sadly it wouldn't move anywhere.

LiberalDude 10 years, 2 months ago

Thank you Paul Davis for blowing the whistle on this. These Western Kansas Republicans are corrupt beyond belief. This is just sad and K-State should be ashamed to be a part of it.

Bill Griffith 10 years, 2 months ago

IGW and Dwight let me touch on the Vermont program-first, IGW I replied to your query on wind on another thread. However, I will gladly reply to it again, later today possibly after I get back from the salt mines. The Vermont program is costing between 2 and 3 cents per kilowatt hour. For comparative purposes, new wind is about 4-5 cents and new coal is around 7 cents (I am using Westar's figures given to the KCC for both latter numbers) per kilowatt hour (wholesale). Obviously, Vermont's investment is fiscally sound. Vermont's program is run by a utility called "Energy Vermont" which is solely dedicated to energy efficiency. The KCC is going to make major changes this year in how utilities run energy efficency programs. One idea to model is the Vermont program, another is to go to decoupling. They are having a workshow on March 20th and 21st to further this process along. It is true that energy efficiency may cost less in eastern Kansas due to less travel mileage. Also, will the rural electric coooperatives and munis take part in the program since they are not required to. Gotta go.

Bill Griffith 10 years, 2 months ago

IGW, would you remind me of the specifics you were asking me about or putting out as a possible solution and were wanting my two cents worth? I believe I remember it, however, to be sure, if you could post it here, I will reply to it. Or you can ask me privately. Thanks.

ENGWOOD 10 years, 2 months ago

It's a sure bet that a legislator from Lawrence would know all about bribery and bad smells!!!!!!

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