Archive for Friday, January 9, 2009

Sebelius, Parkinson outline plan for solar, wind energy programs for Kansas

Plan includes incentives, efficiency requirements

January 9, 2009, 1:19 p.m. Updated January 10, 2009, 10:55 a.m.


Coal absent from governor's energy plan

Gov. Sebelius is choosing to focus on wind power in her new energy plan for Kansas. Enlarge video

— Kansans would have new incentives to install solar panels and wind generators under an energy proposal unveiled Friday by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson.

“It’s time we take the next step toward a clean energy future,” Sebelius said.

But Sebelius reaffirmed her opposition to the proposed coal-fired power plants in western Kansas, saying that the federal government is likely to regulate or tax carbon dioxide emissions, which, she said, would make the project economically unfeasible.

The fight over the two 700-megawatt plants near Holcomb likely will be before the Legislature, which starts the 2009 session on Monday. Last year, Sebelius vetoed three bills that would have required construction of the plants.

Sebelius’ new energy proposal also would require that by 2020, 20 percent of Kansas’ energy production come from renewable sources; provide financial incentives for companies that make renewable energy components, such as wind turbines, to locate in Kansas; and require that state buildings meet energy efficiency standards.

The plan would allow net metering, which would enable customers to sell back at retail cost any electricity they produce above the amount they use.

That proposal has been bottled up in the Legislature, but Parkinson said that recently the state’s largest electric utilities — Westar Energy and Kansas City Power & Light — have agreed to support the legislation.

Parkinson called that a “significant breakthrough.”

Karla Olsen, a Westar spokeswoman, said the company is committed to generating renewable energy.

“We’re not going to get in the way of smaller scale renewable energy efforts. The cost impact on our customers will be slight, if not negligible,” she said.

Sebelius and Parkinson said that approval of net metering and codifying the 20 percent portfolio standard of total state energy production — currently that is in place on a voluntary basis — will lure renewable energy companies and manufacturers.

Also, they want legislation to allow bonds for renewable energy plants that would be paid off with the state income taxes paid by the employees of those businesses.

Scott Allegrucci, director of the Great Plains Alliance for Clean Energy, said the energy plan would have a positive environmental impact and “puts Kansas in a much better position economically.”

House Democratic Leader Paul Davis, of Lawrence, said Sebelius’ plan was “forward-looking.”

The Wind Coalition, a regional trade group that advocates for wind resources, praised the plan, saying it would help Kansas develop its wind potential from its current 1,000 megawatts to upward of 15,000 megawatts.

The coalition said Kansas could become a wind development and transmission hub “that can develop and deliver wind power from coast to coast.”

Sebelius outlined her plan one day after a report put out by an environmental group said Kansas could create 11,500 jobs and draw $2 billion in investment in renewable energy.

The report by the Washington, D.C.-based Renewable Energy Policy Project compared components used in making wind turbines, solar cells, biomass plants and geothermal plants with Kansas companies that make similar products or use similar production techniques.

Frankin and Douglas counties were ranked 12th and 17th, respectively, among Kansas counties that would receive the greatest investment in manufacturing from the development of renewable energy sources, the report said.


OwlHead 9 years, 5 months ago

Bravo for Renewable energy. I am willing to pay a higher price for renewable energy. I will be investing in wind and solar for my personal use as well as my portfolio. It may be painful for some, but we need to curb pollution in the "bread basket"(and everywhere else for that matter) in order to minimize disease and sickness for all.OH yeah, and to prevent massive global flooding;)On the other hand, I am interested to see the best technology available for burning coal. Some plants are still being built that do not utilize the cleanest possible way to burn coal because it is not as profitable. If there were coal plants being built in Kansas I would like to see a mandate for the cleanest most state of the art coal plants on earth. Kansas has to step forward with technology one way or another.

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 5 months ago

The proposed expansion at Sunflower in Holcomb in fact utlizes the latest in technology for coal usage. This isn't even in dispute.

GardenMomma 9 years, 5 months ago

A real incentive would be actual help for those who want to put in solar panels or wind turbines but can't afford to.I'd love to put up some solar panels on my house except that I can't afford the cost of installation or the panels. Help me out that way and I'd gladly do it.

hipper_than_hip 9 years, 5 months ago

Supercritical pulverized coal units were always on the table Babs. There's only one or two operating supercritical plants in the US; it's way high tech.

UlyssesPro 9 years, 5 months ago

There is no such thing as clean coal, and anyone who tells you otherwise is pulling the old green washing 101. Those two proposed plants will release 11 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. There is nothing clean about that.The real nightmare here is that we are only asking for 20 percent by 2020. We need some legislation that is as inspiring (and helpful to the public and private business) as our governor's firm stance last may. What we have here appears to be a baby step. But a step nonetheless.

jengaman 9 years, 5 months ago

We should use Sebelius and the other politicians in KS & DC to power these new wind (aka hot air) generators. It's a win-win since we're already paying them.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 5 months ago

Net metering is designed for small operators. It is not for coal, gas, nuclear, or other large energy investments. The usual cut-off on size is around 10 kW for a business or resident. Westar has stated they have no desire to build a coal plant. So, XD40, why attempt to frame an argument that is not grounded in reality?

Richard Heckler 9 years, 5 months ago

The US government bailed out of its' financial support of a”clean coal” project because the project became far more expensive than estimated . Someone saw the light.Wall Street killed nuke plants back in the 1980's because they were too expensive and were deemed a bad investment. Fiscally responsible decision.Both have high dollar waste problems and health concerns. Both produce radioactive waste. Neither are truly considered clean except by industry reps and politicians.Politicians are slammed daily as crooked yet when they want to build expensive energy plants some of the same slammers cheer them on….go figure.So why all the support for two of the most expensive sources of energy? That is fiscally irresponsible.

Kookamooka 9 years, 5 months ago

Whooo Hoo! Go Kathleen! They don't call us the "people of the outh wind" for nothing! If we've got it (wind, that is) we should use it. Now let's start talking switchgrass instead of corn ethanol!

Richard Heckler 9 years, 5 months ago

Go Switchgrassn his 2006 State of the Union Address, President Bush remarked that "We're working on research—strong research to figure out cellulosic ethanol that can be made from wood chips or stalks or switchgrass." What is switchgrass, and why did it get mentioned in a major presidential address? Switchgrass is a summer perennial grass that grows throughout the Great Plains region of the United States, as well as various parts of the South. Switchgrass is a hardy species—resistant to floods, droughts, nutrient poor soils, and pests—and does not require much fertilizer to produce consistent high yields. Today, switchgrass is primarily cultivated and used by many farmers as either a feed for livestock or, due to its deep root structure, as ground cover to prevent soil erosion. However, this prairie grass was recently put in the spotlight because of its promise for energy production. Researchers believe that switchgrass can be an important feedstock for the production of ethanol, providing substantial advantages, including greater net energy savings and carbon dioxide reductions compared to corn-based ethanol production. It can also help reduce our nations' dependence on oil—a serious problem that is described as an addiction. Switchgrass = money crop for family farmers.

devobrun 9 years, 5 months ago

No where in any of the above discussion is the fundamental concept of energy.Sebelius, Parkinson, Allegrucci, are lawyers, and actors. They don't know a joule from a jewel. Everyone, demand an energy budget for all new projects. How much energy is required to build and maintain these alternative energy technologies? How many joules are required to make the concrete, carbon fiber, steel and copper to build these turbines? What is the lifetime and the total energy produced over the lifetime of these windmills? Ditto solar. Make a similar budget for CO2. How much CO2 is produced to make these gadgets? If you look at the energy and CO2 budgets for wind and solar, you will be disappointed. They don't work any better than corn-based ethanol. Monetary subsidies are there to hide the expense of energy (from coal and oil) that are required to build and maintain the alternative systems. It is a shell game.So why are we adopting them? Because they are cute and cool, kinda like Sebelius, Parkinson, and Allegrucci.It is all hype. Welcome to the world of change, where cool has supplanted engineering and rational thought.

zzgoeb 9 years, 5 months ago

XD40-If you can build it and meet ALL the codes and standards in your community, we'll work something bonehead!

zzgoeb 9 years, 5 months ago

In a state named for the wind, this a great move!!! As for the neigh-sayers and smarty alecks on this board, go outside, look toward the Westar plant in North Lawrence, and tell us why we need to keep burning that black cr*p that is coming from the stack!

gl0ck0wn3r 9 years, 5 months ago

Richard Heckler is super cereal you guys.

Sigmund 9 years, 5 months ago

GardenMomma (Anonymous) says… "I'd love to put up some solar panels on my house except that I can't afford the cost of installation or the panels. Help me out that way and I'd gladly do it."So would Westar but they will have to substantially raise the costs of electricity to consumers. The same is true for wind power. Wind and solar are possible only if you triple (or more) the cost per kilowatt/hour so say goodbye to that cheap coal fired electricity just outside of Lawrence. Be prepared to loose a substantial part of your current discretionary income to higher electric bills and say hello to existing businesses moving to where electricity is cheaper (including China) and fewer new businesses in Kansas.

devobrun 9 years, 5 months ago

The reason that we need the coal-fired electric power plant is to provide the energy to build the windmills and solar cells for your alternative technologies.You cannot build a silicon foundry, smelt the silicon, diffuse impurities and build solar cells with the energy from previously built solar cells. The energy needed to build the cells is greater than the energy provided by the cells.Ditto for bio-fuels. Ditto for windmills. Alternative energy sources like solar and wind require monetary subsidies to become cost effective. Why?Well, the subsidies go to windmill and solar companies so that they can pay:1) Truck drivers and train companies to transport materials. These folks use the extra money to pay for diesel fuel for their vehicles. 2) Salaries for employees who use the money to buy fuel for their vehicles that run on gasoline. Also, they use the money to pay the light bill and gas bill and food bill for their families. In short they must pay for energy for their life. This energy comes from fossil fuel.3) Almost every $ spent by everybody in this western economy eventually goes to or thru energy. Monetary subsidies are a ruse to hide the fact that the joule is the real unit of interest in this discussion. The so-called monetary subsidy derived from carbon taxes is really a subsidy to allow alternative energy folks to buy fossil fuel.It won't work.

JohnBrown 9 years, 5 months ago

Net metering is a big step forward. Devobrun is referring to "embodied energy', i.e. the number of KBTU's required to manufacture a product from raw materials (including the energy costs to mine and refine the ores). Most solar cells are pretty dirty and energy consumptive to make, but not all of them. Nanocrystalline dye-sensitized solar cells seem both safe and energy efficient to make, tho less efficient. Carbon fiber products have about 1/2 the embodied energy of aluminum, even if it includes recycled aluminum.Over the next 35 years the two main resource issues faced by humans will be energy and water. It's nice to see us addressing at least one of them.

Sigmund 9 years, 5 months ago

devobrun (Anonymous) says… "You cannot build a silicon foundry, smelt the silicon, diffuse impurities and build solar cells with the energy from previously built solar cells. The energy needed to build the cells is greater than the energy provided by the cells."Which is why there is no "clean" energy, not even solar and wind. Solar energy is amount the dirtiest sources in the world. Photovoltaic cells are amount dirtiest., what to do with the all the heavy metals used to produce them and they don't last forever. Do you want a photovoltaic cell production plant in your backyard polluting air, ground, and water with heavy metals? Nobody else does either. And wind power is a wash at best for net carbon output after the manufacturing, installation and maintence of windmills and the new construction to connect wind farms to the existing grid.overplayedhistory (Anonymous) says… "There are already 100 new nuclear plants being built world wide, some 30 of them in the states."New nuclear plants are being built where in the US?

mikeriehm 9 years, 5 months ago

Net metering, with one stroke of the pen, would create a huge market for residential wind and solar power generation in Kansas. Currently, our utility company sells us energy at one rate, but will only buy it back from small scale alternative energy producers at a fraction of that rate. Their justification is that they have to pay for the maintenance of infrastructure to connect the independent producers to the grid. Although this is true, the utility companies rates are controlled by the state, and are adjusted to provide for all expenses. In recent times, the state has been happy to approve rates which not only cover all expenses, but very generously also allowed for multimillion dollar CEO and stockholder excesses (Lamborghinis, homes in Hamptons, jets, that kind of stuff). I think they could somehow absorb this very small loss of revenue. "Net metering" means that our utility company is required by the state to purchase energy back at the same rate that they sell it to us. The huge advantage to someone wanting to put solar panels or a wind generator on their land, is that only one utility meter is needed. It either spins forward or it spins backwards. Currently, two meters are needed since they track usage at two different rates. Net metering is a large costs savings and makes small scale production of power much more cost effective. Net metering combined with the recent lifting of the cap on the 30% Federal tax credit available, will catapult the alternative energy market in Kansas by making the cost of energy production at home less than buying it off the grid.

Sean Livingstone 9 years, 5 months ago

"hawkperchedatriverfront (Anonymous) says…I'm really mad at my grandpa for ...."The amount of energy used by your grandpa etc. was far less than you used today. That's the problem.

Logan5 9 years, 5 months ago

Solar panels will soon be available that will make solar power affordable and efficient. They do away with the expensive silicon or glass substrate. cells are currently being produced for use in solar farms in Germany and Spain. As they increase their production, they will become available for homes. These cells use miniscule amounts of material compared to current technology and are about 100 time thinner.Based on the fact that this company is not yet public and judging by their list of investors, this technology is going to be huge.Net metering is vital to this technology. Kansas is one of only 8 states that don't already have it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 5 months ago

"The reason that we need the coal-fired electric power plant is to provide the energy to build the windmills and solar cells for your alternative technologies."We already have coal and nuclear power plants.

devobrun 9 years, 5 months ago

Logan5:Very promising, but be careful. The link you gave is to a marketing blurb entitled "advantages" for the company Nanosolar. This technology may be the answer to low monetary cost and low energy cost conversion of light to electrical power.They did not have a "disadvantages" page, but who would if the intent is marketing."Metering" combined with both solar and wind play havoc with the power grid. If everyone has a solar panel and reversible meters, what happens to the power on the grid when clouds scoot by?Voltage peaks and valleys will require all of us to invest in giant UPS systems for our whole house, not just our computers. Brownouts, voltage surges, popped circuit breakers will be our new complaint, circa 2020. Gathering energy is only part of the problem. Storing, distributing and monitoring will be greatly tested by reversible meters and solar/wind.________The problem is that the state and the nation and the ROW have given themselves over to alternative energy. It isn't ready for prime time. Are some of these new technologies helpful? Yes. Can they be relied upon to replace coal? Not any time soon, if ever. I am all for moving ahead with development of alternatives to coal. However, basing the energy policy of the state of Kansas on promises is irresponsible. Coal-fired plants should be built using new technologies. Solar and wind should be incorporated only if they meet the requirement of greater than 100% efficiency. Unfortunately, we live in a world of style, fashion, and hype. I think there might well be a bunch of old, trashy solar panels left in our dumps in 30 years. Legacy of the craze that was sad illustration of "green" gone hype.

spankyandcranky 9 years, 5 months ago

I moved here from Washington State about 10 years ago and couldn't believe an area with so much potential for natural energy wasn't taking advantage of it. They have dams and wind turbines there and you can bet the state makes money by selling that energy to other states. This will create money, jobs, and better health for the residents here. It's about time, in my opinion!

Bill Griffith 9 years, 5 months ago

Sigmund states that Westar would have significant rate increases if it invested in solar and wind power. This wold be true as of today with an investment in a solar thermal plant sited in western Kansas. However, if one would study the docket filings concerning Westar's investment in wind energy from last year, you would find that Westar's own analysis put the cost of wind power less than coal or nuclear. The rate increase will be fairly small with this added power to the grid system.

Godot 9 years, 5 months ago

Perhaps Gov Sebelius should enhance her energy plan by taxing google searches:Performing two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle for a cup of tea, according to new research. While millions of people tap into Google without considering the environment, a typical search generates about 7g of CO2 Boiling a kettle generates about 15g. “Google operates huge data centres around the world that consume a great deal of power,” said Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard University physicist whose research on the environmental impact of computing is due out soon. “A Google search has a definite environmental impact.” Google is secretive about its energy consumption and carbon footprint. It also refuses to divulge the locations of its data centres. However, with more than 200m internet searches estimated globally daily, the electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions caused by computers and the internet is provoking concern. A recent report by Gartner, the industry analysts, said the global IT industry generated as much greenhouse gas as the world’s airlines - about 2% of emissions. global CO2 “Data centres are among the most energy-intensive facilities imaginable,” said Evan Mills, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Banks of servers storing billions of web pages require power.

lounger 9 years, 5 months ago

Finally a Governor to move us forward instead of backward. She has guts - I will give her that. If some of this passes then I can set up solar and wind. We are SOOOOOOO behind other states on these issues of smart energy. Im glad it happened. Thanks Kathy!!!!

Godot 9 years, 5 months ago

Yes, thank you, Kathy, for blocking access to energy for our state so that we have to pay higher costs until your "green energy" comes on line in several years, which, by the way, will cost even more. I sooooooooo love paying higher energy bills. I am so glad to "have some skin in the game," thanks to soon-to-be-not-so-Queen- (let them eat green) Kathy.

plainville 9 years, 5 months ago

The original Holcomb supposedly isn't paid for. I say supposedly because anytime anyone ask those who should know the facts, those who should know get huffy, and don't answer the question. That means those who get their power from the Holcomb plant are paying artificially low prices, that can't go one forever. I can't call cleaner coal such as the mining of the fuel create huge holes in the Earth or levels mountain tops. The new technology doesn't reduce emissions, only shifts the point of their impact, as the recent TVA disaster has shown. Kansans will be the one affected by the drawbacks of cleaner coal but too many are ignorant to understand it. That's OK they want cheap power now painlessly, doesn't matter who has to bay the bill when it come due down the road

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