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Archive for Thursday, May 1, 2008

Power plant struggle resumes

Senate overrides second veto, adds meter charge

Coal-plant opponents line the corridors of the Kansas Capitol as representatives make their way into the House Chambers on Wednesday in Topeka. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius rejected an alternative proposal for a coal-fired electric plant project, forcing an attempt to override Sebelius' April 17 veto of a second bill allowing the plants in southwest Kansas. Today the House failed to override the veto by four votes.

Coal-plant opponents line the corridors of the Kansas Capitol as representatives make their way into the House Chambers on Wednesday in Topeka. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius rejected an alternative proposal for a coal-fired electric plant project, forcing an attempt to override Sebelius' April 17 veto of a second bill allowing the plants in southwest Kansas. Today the House failed to override the veto by four votes.

May 1, 2008

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Senate overrides coal plant veto

After months of blowing smoke, things heat up today between the two sides involved in a power struggle at the Statehouse. 6News reporter Ben Bauman has more. Enlarge video

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Sebelius rejects coal plant ultimatum
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— As the standoff continued Wednesday over the proposed coal-fired power project in southwest Kansas, a new measure emerged that would hit every electric customer in the state.

A companion bill to the power plant bill was approved in the Senate that would assess a 2 cent per meter per month charge on all ratepayers for four years.

Funds raised from the charge would go toward helping Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. develop its bio-energy research center, and also statewide energy efficiency and weatherization programs.

Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, who opposes the power plant project, called the new charge a tax, and complained that it rocketed out of a hastily called committee meeting with little notice and no chance for opponents to testify.

But state Sen. Janis Lee, D-Kensington, who supports construction of the coal-burning plants, said of the proposed charge, "I doubt that is going to break the bank."

Strategy-wise, the bill was seen by supporters of the project as needed to get more support behind the two 700-megawatt plants because it also included provisions to increase power from the project for use in the state.

Flurry of action

The commotion over the bill was typical of a whirlwind of activity as lawmakers started the wrap-up session.

Earlier in the day, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius rejected an ultimatum to approve the coal-fired project and the Senate voted to override her April 17 veto of a second bill that would authorize the plants.

House leaders promised an override vote today, but were uncertain of its outcome.

"We might lose some, we might win some," said House Majority Leader Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell. "Depends on who twists the arms the best."

The dispute is over the proposal by Sunflower Electric Power Corp. and two out-of-state partners to build the coal-burning plants.

Sebelius has rejected the project, saying that its 11 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions would hurt the environment. She has also criticized legislation on the project because it would strip regulatory authority from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

And another major complaint from Sebelius is that 85 percent of the power would be sold to customers outside Kansas.

Legislative leaders and Sunflower Electric gave Sebelius an ultimatum to accept two 600-megawatt plants, but she refused the proposal.

"I am disappointed that, for the third time in a row, the Legislature is asking me to mandate that Kansas send the power we need - the power we create - to Colorado and Texas," Sebelius said during a news conference.

Senate overrides veto

Within hours of her rejection, the Senate overrode Sebelius' veto, 32-7, which was five more than the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto.

State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, voted to support Sebelius, while state Sen. Roger Pine, R-Lawrence, voted to override her veto.

But the momentum to try an override in the House bogged down as the day progressed.

The companion bill slowed down in the Senate because of technical problems and a number of amendments offered by Francisco, who opposed the proposal in committee. The full Senate adopted the measure, with Pine supporting it and Francisco passing.

As the Senate worked on the bill, the House adjourned for the evening. Some legislators had left earlier to attend the lecture by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts at Kansas University's Lied Center.

To override Sebelius' veto in the 125-member House would require 84 votes.

House leaders said they would vote on the companion bill this morning and then try to override Sebelius' veto in the afternoon.

"It's too close to call," said House Democratic Leader Dennis McKinney of Greensburg, who supports the project.

Questions on new bill

The companion bill produced numerous questions during Senate debate concerning both the new meter charge and the way it allowed more power to be used in Kansas.

Under the proposal, the Kansas City, Kan., Board of Public Utilities would have the option to buy 200 megawatts of power from the project for use in Kansas. If BPU didn't exercise the option, the 200 megawatts would then be available to other Kansas municipalities or cooperatives to purchase.

Early in the day, about 200 people who oppose the project lined the hallways of the Capitol, while several dozen supporters of the project also jammed the building.

Tom Thompson, a lobbyist for the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club, said he hoped the House would sustain Sebelius' veto.

But, he added, if Sebelius' veto is overridden, the issue will be fought out in court.

"I think we're prepared to do whatever we need to do to keep this from going forward," Thompson said.

"The rest of the country is trying to figure out what to do with carbon and Kansas is still trying to figure out if it's a problem or not," he said.

Comments

Lets_Be_Proactive 6 years, 3 months ago

IGW - you can't get a sunburn from visible light. If you're going to put someone down, be sure you don't sound like an idiot.

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JerryStubbs 6 years, 3 months ago

I don't understand why they want everybody in the state to chip in to fund the Sunflower power company. They will probably get fewer votes now.

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Ralph Reed 6 years, 3 months ago

JerryStubbs (Anonymous) writes ..." don't understand why they want everybody in the state to chip in to fund the Sunflower power company. They will probably get fewer votes now."**I don't understand either. Of course we have the same problem locally - existing taxpayers being required to support infrastructure improvements from which they do not and never will receive benefit.I hope your prediction holds true.**(article) "She has also criticized legislation on the project because it would strip regulatory authority from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment."Not only that, the stripped power will be replaced after the end of her administration in 2011. That's a slap in the face of everyone. I also wonder if it's constitutional - separation of powers and all.****Note to Pasadena. This is the second article today you've started writing filth. Please stop it.**I'm me. Who are you behind your hood of anonymity.

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dirkleisure 6 years, 3 months ago

Harderfaster (Anonymous) says:It would take 37,328 wind machines to replace one coal fired power plant. This number doesn't count the wind machines needed to replace the wind machines that are down for service.Then, when the wind quit blowing we would need the coal fired power plant until the wind started blowing again.----------All of the above was 100% accurate in 1993. It is absolutely inaccurate in 2008. Don't argue for coal plants by spreading lies about wind power.

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salad 6 years, 3 months ago

"It would take 37,328 wind machines to replace one coal fired power plant"Actually, your numbers are not acurate. A standard wind generating unit is around 1 MW, a coal fired unit is typically 700 MW. The proposed plant in SW KS is to be two units (1400 MW). So it would be around 1400 wind units to replace the proposed plant. However....1400 wind units only looks pretty on paper. In reality it's a horrible eyesore, plus, they're a maintenance hog, only offer intermitant capacity, and NO VARS SUPPORT!!!Wind energy is a good idea, but not the way we're doing it currently. We should have small units attached to individual houses (rooftops) that would offset household useage. Units about the size of a box fan: light, and inexpensive.

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tolawdjk 6 years, 3 months ago

So this 2 cent tax is going to give Sunflower the $2,000,000 it said it was going to give to K-State for the bio-energy research senter?

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georgeofwesternkansas 6 years, 3 months ago

Dirk, if you dispute fasters numbers please tell us how many wind generators it would take to replace 600 megs of 24/7 coal.

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georgeofwesternkansas 6 years, 3 months ago

"tolawdjk (Anonymous) says: So this 2 cent tax is going to give Sunflower the $2,000,000 it said it was going to give to K-State for the bio-energy research senter?"Does it matter?? Would you rather it go to one of the other bioenergy research centers in Kansas??You scream for clean energy, but will not allow for any research. You are nothing more than an activist looking for a cause.

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salad 6 years, 3 months ago

"how many wind generators it would take to replace 600 megs of 24/7 coal."zero... because it's like trying to ask an apple to be an orange, or trying to find a heart inside a republican.

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JohnBrown 6 years, 3 months ago

I wonder if the community where the Dutchman who put up the first windmill thought it was an eyesore. Now they are quaint."Eyesore" is not a permanent thing. "Eyesore" is not an environmental issue, it's a personal problem and a generational issue. Get real.Windmills are one way prairie owners can produce energy for the community without diverting crops. Plus they make a tidy sum doing it. In the end, everyone wins.

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jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

If we reduce our consumption, solar and wind alternatives become more practical.

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dirkleisure 6 years, 3 months ago

Yesterday, george and igw were lauding Sunflower for their bioenergy plant.Today, they decry anyone who questions why Sunflower has lied about being able to pay for it.Nothing but a continuous stream of lies. They support 19th century energy, but lie about their desire to enter the 21st century.

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jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

If we reduced our consumption, solar and wind would become more practical alternatives.

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fu7il3 6 years, 3 months ago

"If we reduced our consumption, solar and wind would become more practical alternatives."If people didn't drive so much, gas wouldn't cost four dollars a gallon. Those things don't change overnight, or even in months and years. So rather than say, "well, if we reduced these things, did would work." We really need to find other answers. That being said, wind and solar could supplement and reduce what would otherwise be drawn from coal.

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salad 6 years, 3 months ago

Most people don't realize that it takes 24 hrs. to bring a coal plant on-line, assuming everything goes well. That's 24 hrs. of burning coal with no energy generation. It takes about 30 min. to bring a gas turbine generator on-line, which is why most power plants have a gas turbine on site to handle peak load in the summer.

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georgeofwesternkansas 6 years, 3 months ago

"jafs (Anonymous) says: If we reduced our consumption, solar and wind would become more practical alternatives."If my grandfather was a woman he would have been my grandmother. But he wasn't.

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S0uPnAzi 6 years, 3 months ago

Why in the world isn't anyone talking about Geothermal? I bet it would work, and it's renewable, and causes no pollution of any kind. I'm willing to bet that if you stuck a tube 500 feet deep, you could power several towns with the energy produced. Don't need wind, don't need batteries, just a real good digger.

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Bill Griffith 6 years, 3 months ago

As far as wind turbine numbers and coal plants comparisons go, that is an oranges and tangerines comparison. Energy efficiency is not factored in to the equation like it would be in the non-virtual world. However, just for giggles we will leave ee out and do a straight across comparison. A standard wind turbine is now 1.5 MW. In western Kansas it will come in at about 40% efficiency. You would need 2350 turbines to supplant a 1400 MW coal complex IF the coal units were at 100% efficiency.-which they are not. IF Sunflower did a 1% investment in ee each year and Tri-State matched that (Vermont is doing 3%), you could easily reduce the demand by 15-20% after about 5 years of investment. I am not going in to the economics of turbines and ee/jobs in this post-but they are a compelling argument. However, Garden City's economic argument is compelling for their niche because all of the jobs will be right there for their benefit. If one is not tied to GC then the first econonomic scenario should carry more weight.

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salad 6 years, 3 months ago

"Why in the world isn't anyone talking about Geothermal? I bet it would work, and it's renewable, and causes no pollution of any kind. I'm willing to bet that if you stuck a tube 500 feet deep, you could power several towns with the energy produced."Drilling holes is REALLY expensive, but it does work for reducing the heating and cooling of a building. The Linda Hall Library on the UMKC campus has a geothermal system that is used to reduce the energy consumption. It's pretty clever and very expensive.If you're talking about drilling a hole into the earth for the purpose of steam generation to power a turbine and create electricity, then you'd need a hole about 12,000 ft. deep. That's an expensive hole, and a huge amount of pipe.Iceland and New Zealand use geothermal because the heat source is right on the surface.

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tolawdjk 6 years, 3 months ago

I have never stated that I was against bio-energy research.I am confused about a couple things.1. Why does Sunflower need a legislature approved tax to fund it? 2. If productive research arrises out of this center, is it Sunflower's alone to use?3. Is this part of a broader state energy policy? Can anyone submit a bio-research proposal and get a similar tax passed to fund their research?Yeah, 2 cents a month is just two cents a month. I'll send a couple quarters out of my pocket if that is why they need. But its still a -tax-.Let me repeat that.It's still a -tax-.Your taxes have been increased by 2 cents. Why stop at two? Why not go for five? Hell, 10 cents a month is only a buck twenty. Everyone can afford a buck twenty to go to this, can't they? I mean if 2 cents can fund this, imagine what we can do with 5 times that! Five times the money means five times the resources...that should do what, get us results at least twice as fast?Sunflower just raised your taxes. And Republicans voted for it.Thanks a bunch.

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tolawdjk 6 years, 3 months ago

Synopsis of this years legislative season:Regular session:1. Banned a plant.Extended Session:1. Raised taxes.

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Sen_Fudgepack 6 years, 3 months ago

I'll take an eyesore on a planet that we can live over no eyesores on a planet devoid of life...

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ralphralph 6 years, 3 months ago

Clean. Safe. Reliable. Nuclear.Solution: build Wolf Creek Unit # 2.

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Bill Griffith 6 years, 3 months ago

RalphRalph, Tri-State isn't going to pay the prohibitive cost of a nuclear plant because they do not have the financial capital to take on that size of an investment. Nuclear plants have to be built usually by a consortium or a utlility with very deep pockets (Southern or PG&E). Sunflower and Midwest couldn't pay for the preliminary studies for WC#2, let alone anything else associated with it. Besides they only need a couple of hundred megs of power.

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ENGWOOD 6 years, 3 months ago

You wind Nazi's are all the same. Just like Tubby Kennedy and Obama's Mama. Wind Generation is great as long as we force it on Western Kansas and we don't have to view it. Heck Western Kansas is nothing but Hillbilly's and dust devil's anyway it can't hurt their sky scape. Obama's Mama needs to realize that if our economy goes south we won't be able to gamble in her little Casino's that she is so in Love with. Typical lefty loon lets promote corruption in the State so we can build a few more prison's and add more social programs.

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vpete69 6 years, 3 months ago

"Tom Thompson, a lobbyist for the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club, said he hoped the House would sustain Sebelius' veto.But, he added, if Sebelius' veto is overridden, the issue will be fought out in court."=======================================PERFECT example of the Left's reaction to the democratic process when it doesn't go their way. Cant win at the ballot box, take it to court.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

The bottom line is that Coal and Nuke power screw the taxpayer/ratepayer. They are cash cows for the industry due to tax subsidies. If it were not for tax subsidies neither would be in operation because only the top 1% would be able to afford the energy bills comfortably. Tax dollars being spent irresponsibly which is typical of politicians yet so many are cheering them on:. how odd. Going green is as much about being conservative and saving money as it is an environmental concern. The legislators are truly screwing the ratepayers no matter where they live. Meanwhile the special interest campaign dollars roll in and very few give a damn or so it appears.

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