Archive for Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cooperative effort

Westar had more than an altruistic motivation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but it’s still good to see them voluntarily taking that step.

March 5, 2008


It is, indeed, good news that Westar Energy has agreed to voluntarily reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from its generating plants in Kansas.

The agreement, announced last week, between the electrical utility and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment doesn't set specific limits on CO2, but it commits Westar to measure the emissions and present a plan by April 2009 to reduce them.

Carbon dioxide emissions have been much in the news in recent months, since KDHE Secretary Rod Bremby relied on environmental concerns to deny permits for two new coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas. Legislators said Friday that the Westar agreement is unlikely to affect discussions on legislation clearing the way for those plants, but it might have an impact if legislators eventually are forced by a governor's veto to seek a compromise plan.

Although it's doing the right thing, Westar had significant motivation beyond pure altruism to look at reduced emissions. For one thing, permits to operate three coal-fired plants at the Jeffrey Energy Center northwest of Topeka expired Jan. 27 and permits for 13 other Westar coal-fired plants will expire by the end of September. The renewal of those permits will be decided by Bremby's office, which probably would like to avoid the kind of firestorm created by the Holcomb plants.

Another factor looming in the future is the expected new standards on power plant emissions from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Although the EPA doesn't currently regulate carbon dioxide emissions, the agency is expected to set such standards within the next few years. Any action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions now logically would mitigate measures that would be mandated by the EPA.

Westar already had planned to spend more than $750 million over five years to reduce emissions such as sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide, which already are regulated by the state. It also announced last month that it would put off building any new coal-fired plants as long as possible because of "growing opposition" to such plants. There probably also are economic contributors to that decision, but it is interesting in light of the aggressive battle being waged by Sunflower Electric Power Corp. for the Holcomb plants.

It remains to be seen exactly how much effect Westar's voluntary plan will have on reducing emissions from its power plants, but the willingness of the electrical utility to work cooperatively with state regulators is a refreshing and positive approach.


toefungus 10 years ago

Bumbling Bremby is holding Kansas hostage.

Lindsey Buscher 10 years ago

i think that fungus has reached the head by now.

Bob Hechlor 10 years ago

Two major problems occur to me. First, promises from energy companies are known to be worthless and along with that, they are not held accountable by anyone. Our legislature has made it clear that they are not going to care how many plants are built and how much they pollute. They mention that their concern is that they are able to be competitive. The second problem has to do with mining. Mining coal creates a lot of damage to the environment. Again, mining companies are not held accountable even after the fact. The mess that they make cannot be cleaned up entirely. They are changing the flow of water, polluting water, killing wildlife, putting particulates in the air, removing mountain tops, which is really unthinkable and then what is mined has to be transported long distances which requires fuel. Since we now have clean and renewable sources of energy, this is not necessary. We need to get committed to clean energy and energy that we do not have to rely on corporations to supply. If corporations are our only source of energy, we cannot control the pricing, and we can't afford the damage they cause. It is also now most important that we start reducing global warming, which means we need trees more than coal. There is no reason for not dedicating ourselves to renewable energy sources. It has already been undertaken in other countries. There is no reason why America cannot be in the forefront of progress rather than waiting to see what other people do. We are not known to be followers. We need to be leaders.

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