Topeka Utilities and the state’s lead consumer ratepayer agency on Monday criticized a proposed energy plan by state Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence.
House Bill 2038 would require new electric power plants to capture and store 45 percent of climate changing carbon dioxide emissions from. Utilities said the technology to do that was not yet ready.
Westar Energy, Kansas Electric Power Cooperative Inc., and Sunflower Electric Power Corporation testified against the bill before the House Energy and Utilities Committee.
Sunflower Electric, which has been trying to build two 700-megawatt coal-burning plants in southwestern Kansas, said CO2 emissions should be regulated at the federal level, rather than the state level.
“We firmly believe that Kansas should wait for the federal government to act on CO2 before we burden all Kansans with financial costs that may never be agreed to in Washington,” said Wayne Penrod of Sunflower Electric.
Another part of the bill would require the Kansas Corporation Commission to allow utilities to recover their full costs to develop pollution reduction technologies, said David Springe, consumer counsel for the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board.
“This language eliminates any ability of the KCC to disallow any expenditure on these technologies regardless of how excessive and regardless of how imprudent,” Springe said.
But Sloan said his proposal “represented a deliberate effort to raise issues that otherwise may not be considered by the Legislature as we attempt to craft a comprehensive and responsible energy policy.”
Expecting heavy opposition, Sloan urged the committee members to study the proposal and suggest changes. “Don’t just say no,” he said.
He said the issue of reducing and storing CO2 emissions was further along than the utilities stated.
The measure also would require utilities to produce 20 percent of their power by 2020 from renewable sources, such as wind generation.
The Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club said it had concerns about the bill, saying the best way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions was to stop building new coal-burning plants.