Archive for Saturday, March 8, 2008

Energy for Kansas

March 8, 2008


I have received many communications regarding the proposed energy bill and my vote on SB 327's Conference Committee Report. The decision to support the measure was not taken lightly.

Last fall, I participated in a NCSL-sponsored Advanced Coal Technologies Energy Institute. When I returned to Lawrence I contacted Secretary Bremby and shared my copy of the materials with him and the Department. In addition, I offered to bring key speakers to Kansas to meet privately with him to discuss what is technologically feasible in the realm of carbon capture, what costs are associated with such technologies, and what is on the horizon. Prior to making that offer, I confirmed that the speakers would be willing to hold such discussions. I also secured commitments from Sunflower's senior management that they would meet with the Secretary to discuss mitigation and capture opportunities. In both instances, I offered to serve as the facilitator to keep parties on track or to simply arrange for the meetings and excuse myself from the discussions - whichever would be more beneficial. Neither offer was accepted.

During the hearings on HB 2711, I carefully tracked factual arguments made by proponents and opponents. As is often the case, both sides have facts to support their positions and it is the responsibility of the Legislator to ascertain which facts and policy options, on whole, will best benefit the people of Kansas.

I accept that green house gases contribute to global warming and health problems. I also accept that KDHE's professional staff, after evaluating Sunflower's application and all the public comments in opposition, concluded that the Department should approve the application. I recognize that the Secretary determined that 11 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions were unacceptable, but I also recognize that neither EPA nor Congress has established carbon dioxide emission limits (as they have for SOx, NOx, and mercury) and that the Secretary has not proposed limits for consideration by the Legislature or to pursue the Rules and Regulation process and the scrutiny of interested parties. Simply ruling that 11 million tons, ignoring that some capture will occur through the bio-process promoted by KSU, is too high does not constitute establishing a standard. Such an action also does not take into account unacceptably high emission levels from existing Kansas generation units, nor the negligible impact approval or denial of the permit will have on global health and environmental protection.

During Committee deliberations, I succeeded in including amendments that protected many of the Department's powers to address air quality issues, established a science-based policy advisory group, increased the payments for solar net metering, strengthened the renewable portfolio standard, and required that existing and prospective coal- and natural gas-fired electric generation units engage in carbon capture and/or mitigation.

When SB 327 was debated on the floor, leadership succeeded in removing several of the key amendments approved by the Committee and I voted "No" on final action.

My concerns remained that neither the bill nor the Administration was addressing the need for science-based energy planning, that carbon dioxide emission standards were neither in existence nor proposed, that high voltage electric transmission lines necessary and sufficient to move large amounts of wind power are dependent on a fossil-fuel or nuclear baseload plant, and that the Department must still be able to address imminent threats to public health.

While not a member of the Conference Committee on SB 327, I endeavored to coalesce the concerns of the Traditional Republican Caucus members and bring them to the Conferees and House Leadership. The resulting Conference Committee Agreement restored a science and technology-based advisory group; improved the net metering and RPS sections; provided increased incentives for investments in energy conservation by utilities and Kansans.

The requirement that existing generation units engage in mitigation was not included, but the Administration has also not advocated that action.

The voluntary agreement that the Governor negotiated by which the state's electric utilities would develop wind energy has been adhered to by Sunflower, Empire District, and Midwest Energy; and deferred or effectively rejected by Westar and KCPL. Sunflower has 13 percent and Midwest Energy 16 percent of its energy nameplate capacity produced by wind.

My work with the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative, National Conference of State Legislatures, Council of State Government, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Southwest Power Pool, the Kansas Electric Transmission Summits I-V, and other organizations has provided me with the knowledge and commitment to address our state's energy future. One fact that presentations at all of the above organizations' meetings have stressed is that energy generation and transmission needs must be addressed on a regional basis.

My vote for the Conference Committee Report on SB 327 reflected a personal code of honor that requires me to support legislation in which I have succeeded in placing significant amendments. In the case of SB 327, the Conference Committee's actions made the bill "more green" than what the House Committee of the Whole had passed. I would like more mitigation and I also want the electric transmission lines necessary to develop our wind generation potential to be constructed.

I want to address existing coal- and natural gas-fired electric generation unit pollution levels. The recently announced agreement between KDHE and Westar will not result in the Jeffrey Energy Center being as "clean" as the existing Holcomb plant, and does not address the state's largest polluter, on a MWh basis, the Lawrence Energy Center.

I remain committed to passing the green possible bill, but after years of trying it is clear that the Legislature will not pass significant green measures independent of the Holcomb plant approval. I remain troubled that the Secretary overruled his Department's professional staff and that no carbon dioxide emission standards have been proposed. I also remain troubled that my efforts to identify common ground between the Administration and energy proponents are ignored.

For example, in addition to my efforts to facilitate resolution of the conflict last fall, I introduced HB 2765 (mandating that all electric utilities coordinate their renewable energy, baseload, intermediate, and peaking needs) in response to your statements that the Governor can support one coal-fired generation plant that serves Kansans. My major opposition on the Committee came from Democrats. I am not naive enough to believe that HB 2765 was the perfect solution, but I hoped that it would stimulate the Administration, in partnership with legislators and utility executives, to refine the bill or develop a more viable option. Simply stating that the Governor supports Sunflower constructing one generation unit does not constitute a viable option if the financing, contractual obligations, transmission, and other related issues are ignored.

I would not suffer the public abuse nor political consequences of my vote if I did not believe that the long term "green" benefits, regional energy benefits, development of Kansas' wind resources, and the greater long term benefits to our state and her people were accomplished by passing legislation. I remain committed to working with the Administration and other Legislators on responsible energy policies. My vote on an override of a veto will depend on whether I believe a better solution will be available. So far, I see no indication that the Legislature or Administration will move past rhetoric, and that saddens me greatly.

Tom Sloan
45th District


Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Thanks Tom for adopting Bush like thinking in your energy policy. We did not expect that of you.

So you are planning on a run for the state senate eh....

Logan5 7 years, 1 month ago

"I remain committed to passing the green[est] possible bill, but after years of trying it is clear that the Legislature will not pass significant green measures independent of the Holcomb plant approval."

Tom, now is not the time to fold your cards. Public opinion is on your side. There is a looming threat of Federal carbon limits, and the coal plant proponents know it. This is their last chance to get a gigantic plant passed and they should be willing to make deeper concessions. We need at the very least to demand renewable energy statutes that are on par with the majority of other states. This bill does not even do that. Your idea about a scientist-only/non-partisan committee to advise the state on energy issues is admirable. But in the end, it is only advice than can and will be ignored by our repulican dominated legislature. Veto the bill.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Logan 5 is absolutely correct.

Additionally why does Kansas need to retain coal or nuclear when they can be phased out with a combination of:

Nuclear Power Is Not Clean or Green!

No contemporary energy source is as environmentally irresponsible, imposes such a high liability on taxpayers, or is as dangerous as nuclear power. Industry efforts to "greenwash" nuclear energy make a mockery of clean energy goals. Although nuclear reactors do not emit carbon dioxide, promoting nuclear risks to reduce greenhouse emissions is the classic jump from the frying pan into the fire!

The Real Dirt on "Clean" Nuclear Energy

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes nukes and coal need to be phased out ...absolutely. But one other factor ratepayers should take into consideration is the home and commercial buildings. If ratepayers have not done so already replace windows,add or replace insulation and replace the HVAC system with a 95% or better unit. We took out a home improvement loan to aid in our goal of cutting back. The windows made a huge difference and the HVAC unit appears to be paying off as well. We also did a energy star hot water tank replacement or one could choose on demand hot water which simply could not be done in our house at the time.

This greenhouse gas problem will require a team effort. Still nukes and coal need to be phased out.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Correction Marion:

Electric Chain Saw Electric Hedge Trimmers All gas only mowers meet California pollution standards which burn clean and efficient. Makita "weed eater" burns gas only quite efficiently

My Toyota truck also burns clean and efficient.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Tom Sloan to his credit does talk up conservation of energy. Simply means all buildings and homes need to be conservation minded. Using less energy creates less demand = less pollution could a most substantial impact.

Coal Fired Plants, cars and trucks ,commercial/office/retail buildings and homes are at the top of the list of pollution generators.

New homes improperly insulated built with cheap windows and lower end efficiency HVAC units can actually be energy hogs no matter how much a buyer pays.

toefungus 7 years, 1 month ago

You did the right thing. There is a lot of support from true Republicans for this bill.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

The Future of Geothermal Energy U.S. DOE Geothermal Technologies Program Geothermal Energy Association

Geothermal energy has the potential to play a significant role in moving the United States (and other regions of the world) toward a cleaner, more sustainable energy system. It is one of the few renewable energy technologies that-like fossil fuels-can supply continuous, base load power. The costs for electricity from geothermal facilities are also declining. Some geothermal facilities have realized at least 50 percent reductions in the price of electricity since 1980. New facilities can produce electricity for between 4.5 and 7.3 cents per kilowatt-hour, making it competitive with new conventional fossil fuel-fired power plants.[10]

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the geothermal resource base in the United States to be between 95,000 and 150,000 MW, of which about 22,000 MW have been identified as suitable for electric power generation.[11] Unfortunately, only a fraction of this resource is currently utilized, with an installed capacity of 2,800 MW (worldwide capacity is approximately 8,000 MW).[12] But thanks to declining costs and state and federal support, geothermal development is likely to increase. Over the next decade, new geothermal projects are expected to come online to increase U.S. capacity to between 8,000 and 15,000 MW. As hot dry rock technologies improve and become competitive, even more of the largely untapped geothermal resource could be developed. In addition to electric power generation, which is focused primarily in the western United States, there is a bright future for the direct use of geothermal resources as a heating source for homes and businesses everywhere.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Biomass energy brings numerous environmental benefits-reducing air and water pollution, increasing soil quality and reducing erosion, and improving wildlife habitat.

Biomass reduces air pollution by being a part of the carbon cycle (see the box below), reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 90 percent compared with fossil fuels. Sulfur dioxide and other pollutants are also reduced substantially.

Water pollution is reduced because fewer fertilizers and pesticides are used to grow energy crops, and erosion is reduced. Moreover, agricultural researchers in Iowa have discovered that by planting grasses or poplar trees in buffers along waterways, runoff from corn fields is captured, making streams cleaner.

In contrast to high-yield food crops that pull nutrients from the soil, energy crops actually improve soil quality. Prairie grasses, with their deep roots, build up topsoil, putting nitrogen and other nutrients into the ground. Since they are replanted only every 10 years, there is minimal plowing that causes soil to erode.

Finally, biomass crops can create better wildlife habitat than food crops. Since they are native plants, they attract a greater variety of birds and small mammals. They improve the habitat for fish by increasing water quality in nearby streams and ponds. And since they have a wider window of time to be harvested, energy crop harvests can be timed to avoid critical nesting or breeding seasons.

Riding the Carbon Cycle: The carbon cycle is nature's way of moving carbon around to support life on Earth. Carbon dioxide is the most common vehicle for carbon, where one carbon atom is bound to two oxygen atoms. Plant photosynthesis breaks the carbon dioxide in two, keeping the carbon to form the carbohydrates that make up the plant, and putting the oxygen into the air. When the plant dies or is burned, it gives its carbon back to the air, which is then reabsorbed by other plants.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

The Future of Solar Energy

Solar energy technologies are poised for significant growth in the 21st century. More and more architects and contractors are recognizing the value of passive solar and learning how to effectively incorporate it into building designs. Solar hot water systems can compete economically with conventional systems in some areas. And as the cost of solar PV continues to decline, these systems will penetrate increasingly larger markets. In fact, the solar PV industry aims to provide half of all new U.S. electricity generation by 2025.[12]

Aggressive financial incentives in Germany and Japan have made these countries global leaders in solar deployment for years. But the United States is catching up thanks particularly to strong state-level policy support. The rolling blackouts and soaring energy prices experienced by California in 2000 and 2001 have motivated its leaders to create new incentives for solar and other renewable energy technologies. In January 2006, the California Public Utility Commission approved the California Solar Initiative, which dedicates $3.2 billion over 11 years to develop 3,000 megawatts of new solar electricity, equal to placing PV systems on a million rooftops.

Other states are following suit. Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have specific requirements for solar energy as part of their renewable electricity standards. Many more states offer rebates, production incentives, and tax incentives, as well as loan and grant programs. Even the federal government is offering a 30 percent tax credit (up to $2,000) for the purchase and installation of residential PV systems and solar water heaters.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

The Future of Wind Power U.S. DOE Wind Power Program

With increasingly competitive prices, growing environmental concerns, and the call to reduce dependence on foreign energy sources, a strong future for wind power seems certain. The World Wind Energy Association projects global wind capacity will double in size to over 120,000 MW by 2010, with much of the growth happening in the United States, India, and China.[15] Turbines are getting larger and more sophisticated, with land-based turbines now commonly in the 1-2 MW range, and offshore turbines in the 3-5 MW range. The next frontiers for the wind industry are deep-water offshore, and land-based systems capable of operating at lower wind speeds. Both technological advances will provide large areas for new development.

As with any industry that experiences rapid growth, there will be occasional challenges along the way. For example, beginning in 2005, high demand, increased steel costs (the primary material used in turbine construction), increased profit margins, and certain warranty issues have lead to turbine shortages and higher prices.[16] There are also concerns about collisions with bird and bat species in a few locations. And the not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) issue continues to slow development in some regions. But new manufacturing facilities, careful siting and management practices, and increased public understanding of the significant and diverse benefits of wind energy will help overcome these obstacles.

During a February 2006 speech at NREL, President Bush stated that wind energy could provide as much as 20 percent of America's electricity needs. In response, the American Wind Energy Association and the DOE have teamed up to launch an initiative to develop an action plan for achieving this goal. Getting to that level will require a determined national effort, but it will result in less dependence on fossil fuels, significant reductions in global warming emissions, and improved air and water quality for future generations. Wind energy is ready to meet the challenge.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Renewable Energy Basics

No single solution can meet our society's future energy needs. The answer lies instead in a family of diverse energy technologies that share a common thread: they do not deplete our natural resources or destroy our environment.

Renewable energy technologies tap into natural cycles and systems, turning the ever-present energy around us into usable forms. The movement of wind and water, the heat and light of the sun, heat in the ground, the carbohydrates in plants-all are natural energy sources that can supply our needs in a sustainable way. Because they are homegrown, renewables can also increase our energy security and create local jobs.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 1 month ago

I was afraid that this thread would suffer from a lack of copy/pasting. I see that merrill is on that like white on rice.

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

merrill is hard at work copying and pasting! LOL

average 7 years, 1 month ago

The problem to me is that it's hard to paint this as energy for Kansas. 15% of this is energy for Kansas. It can NEVER be more than 15%. 85% of it is permanently committed to other states. If Kansas needs more power in a decade, but carbon caps are in place, we can't get more power from Sunflower.

BTW - On the block Merrill (and I) live, at least six families use clotheslines almost exclusively for drying clothes. In the case of my household, that saves us over a quarter of what our electric consumption would be otherwise.

Kansan7 7 years, 1 month ago

Where to start with Representative Sloan's Letter? 1.) Rep. Sloan claims to be concerned about energy rates... carbon capture and storage? Please. It is a fantasy for the foreseeable future and exorbitantly expensive. Try storage of wind. It is a lot more feasible. The algae capture thing is laughable. The cost of the plastic to keep it running in the winter exceeds the cost of the entire coal plant. 2.) Representative Sloan, would you please stop repeating the ridiculous concept that staff approved the plant and therefore Bremby shouldn't have overriden their decision. Staff can only rule on EXISTING regulation. As Sloan well knows making laws is difficult and time-consuming. (His own success in this arena has been, well, limited:) That is why we have a system that allows the Secretary of the KDHE to make a decision that is outside current legislation in order to protect the health and well-being of Kansans. 3.) Please stop repeating the fallacy that no transmission lines will get built without this plant. Transmission lines have been approved (and have funding) without the plant and will continue to be, due largely to demand for wind generated electricity and the enormous wind potential of the state.
4.) This bill is just going to put us another step behind in developing comprehensive energy policy. Another study group??? Where is Marion on this one? This should be a slam dunk for his ilk. Even more taxpayer dollars... and to what end since the committee has no power? 5.) Since when are Westar and KCPL not doing their part? Three new wind farms and a proposal to reduce carbon from existing plants from Westar; Spearville and another proposed along with 300 MW of efficiency from KCPL? 6.) This legislation, by stripping KDHE of regulatory ability, will encourage coal-burning plants that have been rejected by dozens of other states to locate in Kansas. All they will have to do is find a county that lacks the appropriate zoning regulations (most of the counties in KS) and they will have NO state oversight or regulation regarding health and environment impacts. Even worse, Sunflower has stated that they do not want just 1400 additional MW, but will, under the new anti-regulatory environment build an additional 700 MW plant at Holcomb for a total of 2100 MW of coal-fired emissions. 7.) Where is Sloan's vision and conscience? He talks about the "negligible impact" approval or denial of the permit will have on global health and environmental protection. Many people are making small decisions like using re-usable cloth bags, driving less, walking more, installing energy-efficient appliances, etc. Rep. Sloan, if 11 million tons of CO2 is negligible, where does that put all these actions? What does that reveal about your true thoughts on this issue? How green are you? Has "green" been a convenient political image for you? Looks like it is time to find a new one.

Oracle_of_Rhode 7 years, 1 month ago

Stuff these coal plants. We don't want them in Kansas, and we know the energy isn't even for Kansas.

Let's focus on cleaner and renewable energy, and be world-class leaders in wind and solar energy production rather than a dumping ground for neighboring states and a world-class polluter.

Rep. Sloan should be voted out of office for trying to disguise greed as thoughtfulness.

ilovecatsohyeah 7 years, 1 month ago

OH Boy... The complexities of this issue is much deeper than any of you suppose to think.

Think beyond the narrow path that you have been thinking.

The answer is something along the lines of energy production needs for the demands in the short term ( 10 years) as well as forward thinking long term renewable portfolios for the long term ( 20 - 50 years out) that includes mixes to meet our peak demand periods.. IE... summer on a hot day in kansas when the temperatures soar to 105 and the wind doesnt blow.

Think outside of the box you are loudly heralding in!!

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