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Archive for Sunday, May 11, 2008

Energy efforts

After a legislative session that produced far more heat than light on energy issues, Kansas needs to step back and take a less political approach to its energy future.

May 11, 2008

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Now is the time for Kansas to get serious about its energy future. Although the 2008 session of the Kansas Legislature was dominated by discussion of two power plants in southwest Kansas, the session produced almost no progress toward a comprehensive energy strategy for the state.

Legislative leaders spent most of the session bartering for votes on legislation that would cancel out a permit denial for the coal-fired plants by state regulators. Various "environmental" measures were added to the bills to try to build up a veto-proof approval margin, but those add-ons were a token effort aimed at satisfying a political goal, not setting meaningful policy for the state.

The constitutionality of the last bill on the coal-fired plants is being questioned and the measure is certain to be vetoed by the governor. Because the bill was passed by a margin less than the two-thirds needed for a veto override, it's apparently "game over" for this year.

In its closing days, the Legislature also decided to dip into the area of nuclear energy, passing a bill that would allow electric utilities to raise their rates to recover development expenses for new nuclear generating facilities. Although additional nuclear capacity, especially an expansion of the existing Wolf Creek plant, may well be in the state's energy future, the measure was passed almost as an afterthought and wasn't part of any overall energy strategy.

Reliable sources of energy are vital to the state's future, both for residential uses and for economic development. Rather than taking random shots at energy-related issues, the state needs to take a comprehensive look at both the economic and environmental factors involved.

The governor has taken a step in that direction by announcing her appointments to a new Kansas Energy and Environmental Policy Advisory Group. The stated charge of the group is "to focus on ways Kansas can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions," but how energy is produced in Kansas is a key part of that equation. The group has a good representation of environmental and energy interests along with scientists from state universities. Five cabinet secretaries and several other people in top state agency positions will serve as ex-officio members.

When a group's membership represents such diverse interests as the Kansas Sierra Club, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Westar Energy, consensus sometimes can be difficult to reach. It's important that this group take an approach that is based on science, not politics, and focus on what is best for the state as a whole.

In a post-mortem of the 2008 session, Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, said that the "intensive discussion" of energy issues that occurred this session will pay dividends for the state in the future. That may be true, but this session also provided an intensive example of how political agendas can derail policy progress. Between now and next January, the state and its policy makers need to regroup and redirect their efforts to an energy policy that is more progressive and less political.

Comments

Bill Griffith 6 years, 7 months ago

First, to the climate skeptics-Kansas energy policy will largely follow what the federal government does. Kansas does not have a history in this arena of striking out on its own-like say Vermont and California. Given that fact, it is known by utilities, regulators, environmentalists, and policy makers that next year there will be a federal cap and trade system to regulate CO2. While some may still wish to debate global warming, for the purpose of designing energy policy in Kansas that point is very moot. However, I am skeptical that whatever recommendations that the governor's new Energy and Environmental Policy Advisory Group (EEPAG) will pass muster in the legislature when it has to get by Carl Holmes and his conservative consortium on the House Utilities Committee, Melvin Neufeld, and the Senate. If the recommendations that EEPAG come up with can be done by administrative order then that will be done by the governor and in short order. However, that is akin to doing the Texas Two-Step on one leg. I also think that Westar/KCPL and the Sierra Club now have more in common than differences since both of them view carbon regulation as a done deal and wish to dive into energy efficiency at full speed. KCPL of course, has to purchase more wind power in the next couple of years because of their settlement with the SC. Westar won't be far behind. My question to the folks who think that a more environmentally friendly energy policy may lead to the lights going out is this: Why haven't the lights gone out in Vermont, or Denmark, or Sweden? They must be doing something right. What exactly are they doing? The "lights going out" argument is a red herrring and is designed to scare people. When you hear Mike Chesser of KCPL or Jim Ludwig of Westar say that term, then it is time to examine the issue more closely, but when Melvin Neufeld, Carl Holmes, or another of that ilk say it.......someone is pissing on our leg and telling us it is raining.......

Liberty 6 years, 7 months ago

Solar panels and wind power are both expensive and not very efficient. Wind only works when the wind blows. Solar only works during the day. Both are expensive solutions and the power collected must be stored in batteries or some other way which is also very expensive and must be constantly replaced. However, new technology is emerging all the time, but it doesn't seem to be coming from our overfunded colleges. It is coming from the individual inventor which is not funded at all. Seems the small inventors should be rewarded and funded rather than big land deals for wind or solar or colleges that aren't producing new energy technology.

devobrun 6 years, 7 months ago

The governor has taken a step in that direction by announcing her appointments to a new Kansas Energy and Environmental Policy Advisory Group. The stated charge of the group is "to focus on ways Kansas can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions,"CO2 is not the problem: http://www.skeptic.com/the_magazine/featured_articles/v14n01_climate_of_belief.htmlThe problem is that politicians and the public are being advised by people who claim to be scientists, but are not. Their science is sloppy, their agenda is political power. It will take years for science and the economy to recover from this "CO2 is a pollutant" debacle.

tunahelper 6 years, 7 months ago

we have over 200 years of coal reserves in Wyoming alone! lots and lots of oil in Alaska!the leftist enviro-whackos and dumbocrats need to move to mexico or china and see how bad it is there!china adds a new extremely dirty coal power plant on line every week! Sunflower wants to use new, cleaner burning technology to burn coal, very abundant, cheap coal. yet the governor won't even let Sunflower try it, that is truly un-American.she and all the leftist dumbocrats can be the first ones to lose their power when we run out of electricity.what a bunch of morons.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

Rebuilding economies:http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/renewable_energy_basics/renewing-americas-economy.htmlThere are thousands of new jobs attached to wind power,solar power, refined hydropower and geo thermal. It's all available now. Why not go for it?

ilovecatsohyeah 6 years, 7 months ago

Previous link is a fox news story on Denmark renewable energy and HOW and WHY they got to be where they are at. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,203293,00.html

ilovecatsohyeah 6 years, 7 months ago

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,203293,00.htmlCheck this out. Remember when assessing the energy issue to look at all sides..... including the cost it will have to your overall family budget. Western Kansas pays nearly double what Eastern Kansas pays for their energy. They are trying to create a source for their own baseload generation. Currently, their baseload generation is supplied to them via contract from Eastern Kansas electric companies. If they are not allowed to create energy for them selve.. they will have to buy energy from other sources outside of kansas, as their kansas suppliers no longer have excess energy to sell to them. The plant in Holcomb would allow kansas to be an energy exporter... without it.. we will become an energy importer. I believe all Kansans... are looking for ways to be more energy efficient, and use renewable energy. But one has to be realistic about the progression of the growth of that energy source as wind is a variable resource often blowing at night and not during the day when the peak demand for energy is needed... Reality, is what is needed when looking at making an energy policy. Additionally, I would request that those making energy decisions for our state and nation look not just at short term solutions but LONG term progressive approaches to using all technologically advanced options for energy production. Included in this mix, will most definately be, energy created from fossel fuels, natural gas, and nuclear. Remember when looking at the issues for energy that there is more than one way to solve the demand and there are certainly more than just your own personal issues to consider... In your mind search for the best solution for all involved and weigh the costs to all, not just those whom you can see on a day to day basis. WE ALL must come together for a solution and quit drawing lines in the soil beyond which we will not move or think.

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