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Archive for Monday, May 4, 2009

State reaches agreement to enable one coal plant to be built at Holcomb

Parkinson agrees to build single facility with ‘green’ offsets

One new coal-fired power plant could be on its way to southwest Kansas.

May 4, 2009, 3:43 p.m. Updated May 5, 2009, 8:11 a.m.

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Sunflower Electric coal plant

After months of debate and legislative battles, Sunflower Electric Power Corp. will be allowed to build a new, coal-fired power plant in Southwest Kansas. Trace the history of the disagreement and look back on how we got here.

Gov. Mark Parkinson, left, and Earl Watkins, president and chief executive officer of Sunflower Electric Power Corp. share a laugh during a news conference Monday announcing a proposed agreement that will allow Sunflower Electric to build an 895-megawatt coal-burning power plant in southwest Kansas.

Gov. Mark Parkinson, left, and Earl Watkins, president and chief executive officer of Sunflower Electric Power Corp. share a laugh during a news conference Monday announcing a proposed agreement that will allow Sunflower Electric to build an 895-megawatt coal-burning power plant in southwest Kansas.

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Were you surprised that one week after former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius left for Washington, D.C., that Gov. Mark Parkinson reached a deal with Sunflower Electric Power Co. to build a coal-fired power plant in southwest Kansas?

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— In a stunning development, Gov. Mark Parkinson and Sunflower Electric Power Corp. on Monday signed an agreement over the coal-fired electric power project that has strangled Kansas politics for nearly two years.

Under the deal, Sunflower Electric will reduce the size of its proposal from two 700-megawatt coal-fired plants to one 895-megawatt coal-burning plant in southwest Kansas.

The agreement includes mitigation projects aimed at reducing the carbon dioxide footprint of the plant and is contingent on the Legislature adopting green energy provisions pushed by Parkinson during the current wrap-up session.

Combining the mitigation and green energy proposals, Parkinson said, “It is entirely possible that the carbon impact print of this plant is zero or perhaps even less than zero.”

If enacted, the proposal would end a political standoff that started in 2007 when Kansas made international news after the state’s Health and Environment secretary, Rod Bremby, rejected the project because of concerns about carbon dioxide emissions.

Supporters of the plants were furious and pushed through legislation to try to force Bremby to allow the project, but former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed those bills four different times.

She criticized the plants as polluters that would add to global warming, while most of the power from the project would go to out-of-state customers. She had offered to let Sunflower build one 660-megawatt plant, but Sunflower and its main partner, Colorado-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, said that wasn’t economically feasible.

Sebelius’ lieutenant governor, Parkinson, was one of the project’s staunchest critics. But last week, Sebelius was named secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, elevating Parkinson to the governor’s job.

Almost immediately upon taking office, Parkinson said he reached out to see whether there was room for negotiation with Sunflower.

At a news conference Monday, standing beside Sunflower Electric’s president and CEO, Earl Watkins, Parkinson said the proposed deal would be “a win-win for the entire state” because it would produce jobs while establishing in law renewable energy standards and encouraging wind development.

Watkins was just as effusive.

“This project will be the cleanest project from virtually every emissions perspective, especially from a CO2 perspective,” he said.

Opponents not persuaded

The Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club said it was disappointed in the deal.

“Today, Kansas took a big step backward. We cannot build new coal plants and claim to want to slow global warming at the same time,” the group said in a statement.

Tom Thompson, a lobbyist for the Sierra Club, said the organization would evaluate the agreement closely before deciding what to do about it.

State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, also expressed concerns. “We need to be reducing the amount of electricity we are getting from coal,” she said. The Lawrence City Commission had opposed the project.

But state Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, said he was encouraged by the developments.

“My initial read of this agreement is that this is very good news for the state of Kansas,” Holland said.

Combines coal, wind

Under the deal, Sunflower Electric would build an 895 megawatt coal-burning power plant that would emit 6.672 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. That is down from the proposal to build two 700-megawatt plants that would have emitted 11 million tons of CO2 per year. Kansas would still only use 200 megawatts of power, while the remaining 695 megawatts would be sent to other states, primarily Colorado.

As proposed, the project will include offsets to reduce CO2 emissions by 3.016 million tons per year.

These offsets include developing 179 megawatts of wind energy; achieving renewable energy standards; using 10 percent of biomass fuel; development of two transmission lines for the western grid, which can be used to transmit wind energy; decommissioning oil-fired power units in Garden City; and development of a biodigester to capture methane, and an algae reactor.

The agreement is contingent on passage of a comprehensive energy package that includes making federal clean energy air standards the guidance for state regulations; renewable portfolio standards; net metering; energy efficiency; state vehicle fuel economy standards; expanded authority for the Kansas Electric Transmission Authority; and compressed air energy storage.

Jobs needed, some say

Holland said the estimated 1,500 jobs created by construction of the plant combined with the additional wind energy that will result from the project made it worthwhile.

“The one plant deal is contingent on passage of a comprehensive energy plan by the Legislature, and we also come away with an additional 180 megawatts of wind as well as transmission lines that can link our Kansas wind farms to the western U.S. grid,” he said.

But Francisco said another provision in the energy package that Parkinson wants would allow more electric cooperatives to opt out of oversight of the Kansas Corporation Commission.

“That would be reducing protections for individual members of cooperatives,” she said.

Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, House Republican leaders and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce praised the deal.

Should the Legislature enact the energy package and Sunflower receive state permits, it may still face opposition on the federal level, where President Barack Obama has signaled a willingness to regulate CO2 emissions.

But Sunflower’s Watkins sounded optimistic, saying, “If there is federal legislation that comes out that puts a burden on a coal plant, I’d rather have a coal plant that is the most efficient, least emitting coal plant,” he said.

He said construction on the plant could start in a year to 18 months, and then take four years to complete.

Parkinson and Watkins signed the agreement to dissolve a federal lawsuit Sunflower filed against the state.

Comments

Ogallala_Kid 5 years, 7 months ago

I can't wait to hear the Lawrence people wail away on this.

Notice that Kathleen only had to be out of town a week for this to happen.

jackpot 5 years, 7 months ago

LJWorld "Kansas Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson" didn't he get sworn in last week? Is he not "Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson"?

supercowbellninja 5 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Jonathan Kealing 5 years, 7 months ago

jackpot-

Yes, you're correct. I was typing quickly, sending out Tweets and also e-mail alerts. Thanks for catching it.

Jonathan Kealing Online editor

dinglesmith 5 years, 7 months ago

Can someone explain to me how the carbon impact of this can be less than zero? Are they actually consuming carbon that was in the air? Possibly carbon impact means something different than I think it does. If you're putting CO2 in the air, I would suspect that you have a carbon impact.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

Actually, Sebelius tried to work a similar compromise, but Sunflower would have no part of it.

This plant may never get built if the US Congress passes legislation to restrict carbon output.

Jonathan Kealing 5 years, 7 months ago

dingle--

My understanding is they're saying by retiring the two oil plants and some other carbon consuming measures they're taking, it'll net out to zero, or less than zero. But we're still sorting out the details.

Ogallala_Kid 5 years, 7 months ago

@Bozo. That makes absolutely no sense Bozo & you know it. The only difference in the mix is lack of Sebelius. It was her intransigence as she sought national attention.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

" That makes absolutely no sense Bozo & you know it."

What's "sense" got to do with it? It's a simple fact, regardless of your attempts at denial.

Ogallala_Kid 5 years, 7 months ago

@Bozo. Sunflower wants outcomes, doesn't care from whom they come. You argue otherwise. Fail.

Good name you have.

Ogallala_Kid 5 years, 7 months ago

@Bozo. Sunflower wants outcomes, doesn't care from whom they come. You contend they don't. You fail.

Good name you have.

thtb 5 years, 7 months ago

What crap! Sunflower is financially upside down and yet we are doing this! This is absurd.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

http://hopeandpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/01/details-of-sebelius-coal-compromise.html

"THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 2008

Details of Sebelius coal compromise By Diane Silver

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius wrote to legislative leaders today revealing that Holcomb's developers, Sunflower Electric Power and Midwest Energy, had rejected a compromise plan from her administration.

Perhaps, the power of the Hive Mind of the web can help us understand this more. What do you all think? Is this a good compromise? Should she compromise at all?

The governor's letter says the compromise involved the following points. Build one new plant similar in size to the Sand Sage permit previously approved (660 MW); Kansas base load power needs must receive top priority; Plant must be able to implement carbon sequestration technology; Commitment for 20% wind power (132 MW) Commitment for 100 MW of energy efficiency Net metering allowed in the Sunflower service area"

WilburM 5 years, 7 months ago

Fascinating. The ball is now in the Legislature's court. Let's see if the legislators can put together a real package of energy sources, which will take advantage of the excellent mix of opportunities that we have in KS to go forward with an integrated plan.

Or will they be all hot air.

And whatever one's position is on Kathleen Sebelius, the fact is that this agreement comes under Governor Parkinson.

introversion 5 years, 7 months ago

How about a statewide moratorium on coal plants?

At first glance this actually looks like a fair deal, except now I feel like their foot is in the door.

It says they're building one. It doesn't say whether that's one and not two, or just one so far...

Come on Mark, let's not drop the ball here.

Ogallala_Kid 5 years, 7 months ago

@Bozo. Sebelius writing a face-saving letter and actually doing it are two different things. It is obvious that Sebelius profited politically by beating the "no plant" drum, instead of actually leading the legislature to enact significant energy reform.

Parkinson actually wants energy reform: net-metering, more wind, fewer oil plants. Everybody accepts his interest in the issue. He didn't just "talk the talk" He has put a proposal out there and will "walk the walk." It's a pretty strong one too.

Absolutists like Bozo will never understand this. They don't accept the legislature will not accept those reforms without addressing the economic needs of SW Kansas. Might be unfortunate, but it is true.

As Sen. Dole said to you Lawrencians yesterday....it takes a little give on both sides... Parkinson has done....what Sebelius found it politically convenient not to do. Give him credit.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

"And whatever one's position is on Kathleen Sebelius, the fact is that this agreement comes under Governor Parkinson."

My guess is that they know that they'd never get the twin plants past Parkinson's veto, so they took what they could get once Sebelius was out of town. That way they could make it seem like she was the problem (see Ogalla kid's posts above,) despite the fact that this compromise has almost certainly been in the works for several weeks.

Building any new coal plants anywhere is still a really stupid idea, since they are going to be decommissioned by the hundreds over next twenty years, long before the service life of this plant has been reached.

tolawdjk 5 years, 7 months ago

It will still have to get re-permitted as the previous one was never issued.

That permit, most likely, will be commented on by Sierra Club, issued, then S.C will immediately sue.

3 years minimum before an inch of ground is broken on this.

dlkrm 5 years, 7 months ago

To all you leftists who want to live without electricity:

MOVE ELSEWHERE. We don't need or want you. Wind power is extraordinarily unproven, and even someone as rich and resourceful as T. Boone Pickens hasn't been able to find a scientist who can figure out how to reliably and efficiently store the power generated by wind. So while you live in your fantasy land of windmills and tiny cars, I'm building coal plants and running my dishwasher, washer and dryer, air conditioner, and pc on electricity generated by coal plants.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

"To all you leftists who want to live without electricity:

move elsewhere. "

Yea, and I'm sure you'll be sending us checks to cover the damage done by the global climate change created by your profligacy. Just because you don't mind to sh*tting in your own bed doesn't mean that it can be contained there.

frank mcguinness 5 years, 7 months ago

Funny but the ogallala kid has no idea what will happen to the aquifer once a coal plant is built above it. Any plant will surely drain what little water is in that aquifer.

Steve Jacob 5 years, 7 months ago

"Building any new coal plants anywhere is still a really stupid idea, since they are going to be decommissioned by the hundreds over next twenty years, long before the service life of this plant has been reached."

Then why are there plans for over 150 new coal plants in the works? We will need coal for 100 more years. Remember, we hit a population on 300M in 2006, and will hit 400M between 2039 and 2043.

Shardwurm 5 years, 7 months ago

It's funny how the eastern half of the state - which is primarily concerned with KU's seeding in the tourney and how to pronounce 'Xavier' - cares little for the fact that the western half of the state is becoming a wasteland for lack of jobs.

Not only will this provide a tremendous boost to the impoverished southwest part of the state, but it will provide jobs and sell power to customers in other states. That's right. Other people sending us their money for our residents to spend.

You know, sort of like liberals do all the time with your taxes.

kmat 5 years, 7 months ago

Just love how the needs of Colorado become the polution of Kansas.

And dlkrm - this isn't a left or right issue.

Instead of building more coals plants, we need to redo the electrical grid. Then the full capabilities of wind and solar can be utilized. Which is smarter, build more polluting coal plants or update the infrastructure so clean energy can be used better?

And some of us reduce the amount of energy we use, drive smaller cars, turn our thermostats down and heaven forbid - wash some dishes by hand, let our clothes dry outside and turn off our PC's when not actively used. Why not try conserving instead of building more????????? Once again, not a left or right issue. I know a lot of hard core republicans that are smart enough to understand polution, global warming and conservation. I work for a company owned by a hard core righty that specializes in helping other companies go green via their lighting. Why not grow up and learn to change your habits so we don't need more coal plants?

Jeff Kilgore 5 years, 7 months ago

Shardwurm, you couldn't be more wrong. I grew up in W. Kansas, and even though it's shrinking, no one cares that much. They're consolidating schools and all. Here is the truth about your prediction of great economic expansion.

1) jobs? (low paying) for illegal aliens 2) profits? for a very few 3) electricity? for Colorado 4) negative carbon emissions? Orwellian rules apply here.

Meanwhile Kansas receives the pollution. Let the powerful few overrun and lie to the common good of all and call it government. We deserve the problems we're going to get for allowing this to happen. And they will happen. What a sad day for Kansas. What a great day for Sunflower! And what a pretty name, Sunflower, for a dirty product.

timetospeakup 5 years, 7 months ago

kmat - washing dishes by hand is way more wasteful than a modern, efficient dishwasher so long as you only wash full loads.

rhd99 5 years, 7 months ago

Talk about hot air, her name is Kathleen Sebelius. Down with Sebelius & kudos to our new governor. The difference between him & her is that he has more common sense & actually knows how to compromise. Inhale that one, Obama loyalists! Good luck trying to sell Health Care nationalization. Hahahahahahaha!

Danimal 5 years, 7 months ago

I like Gov. Parkinson more everyday. He took one political boondoggle and, I think, found a reasonable compromise. Now everyone can move on to bigger and better things.

Newell_Post 5 years, 7 months ago

This coal plant will cause numerous deaths per plant operating year. Wind generators would have caused none.

http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html

Ogallala_Kid 5 years, 7 months ago

@rooster. Ogallala uses the aquifer daily, unlike you. It is the sever lack of knowledge on the water issue that attracted me to this forum. The plant will actually "drain" less water per acre than is currently consumed in corn production.

Come on out, I'll show you how it works.

@logicsound Too much Lewis Carroll reading lately?

TheOriginalCA 5 years, 7 months ago

Obama has been pushing clean coal plants all along while KKKathleen Sebelius deliberately drew much attention to herself with her constant stonewalling this issue then not approving te plants. Trust me, this scheduling of this development is no coincidence. KKKathleen could not change her position because it would appear suspicious and might compromise her VP chances. Obama and KKKathleen will later grab credit for this as though KKKathleen was for it all along.

average 5 years, 7 months ago

How much of that is guaranteed, locked in stone, to Colorado?

That (and water depletion) was my biggest beef. 85% of the power from the original plan was guaranteed to go to Colorado. Didn't matter if Western Kansas grew or gained industries and needed more power. Didn't matter if cap-and-trade policies were implemented. 85% of the power was going to Colorado. And 85% of the pollution was coming to Kansas. If we needed more power, we'd have to build another unit.

If Kansas utilities have first dibs, this seems like a decent compromise.

average 5 years, 7 months ago

Oh, and as noted, Sebelius did try to negotiate a one-unit compromise. The fact that this could be arranged this quickly suggests it was a very personal issue with certain elements.

Mixolydian 5 years, 7 months ago

The unspoken deal here is actually with the legislature.

Parkinson gives up on the coal plant and the republicans give up on no tax increases for 2010. Omnibus finishes up by Friday noon and they all go home.

gccs14r 5 years, 7 months ago

Without the aquifer, western Kansas is largely uninhabitable. The day of aquifer depletion is coming. With the plant, it'll come that much sooner. Before long, those folks will be paying to haul in water from other states.

Steve Jacob 5 years, 7 months ago

I wonder how we would feel about this if it was 350 miles the other way, in Missouri? Would we even know or care about this?

OldEnuf2BYurDad 5 years, 7 months ago

"This is Bl st. How about zero coal plants and more wind energy?"

Maybe you didn't get the memo: the environmentalist are against WIND power as well... something about the turbines being ugly and noisy...

notajayhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"My guess is that they know that they'd never get the twin plants past Parkinson's veto, so they took what they could get once Sebelius was out of town."

More brilliant boohoozo twisted logic. If that was their thinking, boohoozo, why didn't they accept Kathy's compromise, since they had no chance of getting past her veto?

But okay, let's look at this 'similar' compromise. Sebelius offered a 660 MW, they agreed to 895 MW. Yep, I'm sure that tiny, insignificant (35%) increase didn't have anything to do with it. Also, while most of the requirements in Sebelius' proposal are included in this deal and/or the pending legislation, unless it was omitted from this story, one requirement is not: That Kansas base load power needs must receive top priority. No small limitation, not being able to sell your product to whoever you want.

Instead of their accepting the deal because "they know that they'd never get the twin plants past Parkinson's veto," perhaps the significantly better terms offered by Parkinson were due to his knowing he'd never win a federal lawsuit.

average 5 years, 7 months ago

OldEnuf - Please don't act like there's some absolute "this is what environmentalists believe". That's no more fair than saying, because you're conservative, you agree with every position of Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter.

I'm a liberal. I consider myself environmentalist. I'm pro-wind. Hell, I'm largely pro-nuclear, though a bit scared having profit-first good-old-boys (a la Enron) involved with nuke plants.

You're a better debater than that, OldEnuf. Take your strawmen elsewhere.

Beth Bird 5 years, 7 months ago

Wow, that took less than a week to undo great decision by our former govenor. What a loss for Kansas. I am scared to see where we will go from here.

KEITHMILES05 5 years, 7 months ago

Great political skills by Parkinson forging ahead with a compromise.

Kudos.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

When I engage in idle speculation, at least I know it's idle speculation.

But it's quite entertaining to watch how eager some of you are to pee all over yourselves in claiming this deal happened solely because the evil Sebelius has left town and the fair-minded Parkinson has found the way to reason.

igby 5 years, 7 months ago

Kathy was just playing too her parties tune to get blessed by the left-wing greenies so she would be cabinet-ised by the Obamatrons. She could care less about coal plants in Western Kansas. Western Kansas voters is why she was elected as Gov..

Being National Health Cares chief Guru is just down her alley. Notice how the talk of closing the Mexican border suddenly cause a world wide threat of a virus to become as common non-threatening sniffle just overnight. It's not in the Dems agenda to close the border and talk of it turned a threat into a mild-stone of a sniffle just overnight.

The same twist the Dems applied to the third trimester/Kline-roasting; they would rather have rapist of children go free than really address the issue of womens rights opposed to putting criminals in jail for child rapes.

Whats more important to the Dems is their politics rather than your safety.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 7 months ago

I am very well pleased with this decision. I am not convinced one whit that this "global warming conspiricy" has any validity outside of ozone man and his book writing crusade. Carbon Dioxide is absorbed by living plants to make oxygen. Human beings and all living animal forms breathe oxygen. I have even heard some idiots say that carbon dioxide is poisin. Baloney! It exists in every carbonated beverage you open, in every vehicle that runs on petrol fuel, from the exhaled breath of every living human and animal being on earth. This mass hysteria resembles the current hype on the swine (oops, r2d2) flu "epidemic" These nit wit liberals who are running around in circles are determined to destroy the main source of electric power in this country, in this age, in the most economical manner to generate ever increasingly needed eletric power. They are out to destroy our way of life in favor of their fantasy windmill theory, something that just does not exist and as yet has no chance under present technology of replacing the current electric production infrastructure. Post all the link to leftest sites you want, I know science and I know that the left loonies are as dangerous to humanity as the religious right-wing extremeists. Common sense is needed at I have not seen much of that in any thoughtful assessment of this situation.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 7 months ago

I've been trying to find out about the "Garden City 1" and "Garden City 2" oil fired peak power plants that will be decommissioned as part of this deal and I can't find a scrap of information about them. There are no such critters listed on the Sunflower Power website, no such critters listed when I googled for them, for "garden city" AND "power plant" etc. It really makes me wonder whether they even exist any more in terms of actually being active power plants that are used any more.

Could they already not be used, and in their magnaminity, Sunflower Power has "agreed" to continue to not use them? How much have they actually been used in the past decade? I smell something fishy here....

Bill Griffith 5 years, 7 months ago

The GC oil fired peak power plants are a couple of old rust buckets that Sunflower fires up occasionally when peak demand deems it necessary.

Going to zero or "below zero" on carbon offsets would have to rely very heavily on the algae reactor technology that is unproven on a large scale at this time.

If Parkinson was concerned about the federal lawsuit, he would not settle for another 18 months at the very least.

The majority 600 (plus MWs) will be going to Colorado. I don't know if Golden Spreak out of Texas will be getting any of this. Have to wait for more details.

Bill Griffith 5 years, 7 months ago

Based upon past comments from Parkinson and his belief in climate change, I am wondering if he is being a Machiavelli of sorts here. Is he finding a way to get a good ee and renewable agenda through the legislature while knowing that litigation will soon drag this new coal plant proposal to a stop and then carbon legislation on the federal level may very well kill it off? If this is what his ultimate plan is and it falls in to place, he is one of the premier pols of our time...... then again, maybe it should just be taken on face value.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 7 months ago

The algae reactor to sequester carbon is based on unproven technology where they have only done preliminary "proof of concept" small scale runs. In fact, I believe that the folks that originally contracted with Sunflower to develop this technology pulled out of the deal. We're talking decades if ever on actually sequestering any significant amount of CO2 via the algae plants.

And then there's the COST of sequestering CO2 using this unproven technology.....so far the coal power folks have not publicized that any carbon sequestration technology in the planning stages will be so expensive that it'll cost way more than other sources for electricity generation, including wind and solar.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 7 months ago

Belexus, do you have any information you could point folks to about the "GC rust buckets?" These oil fired dinosaurs need to be exposed for what they are, and shown how little they are actually used.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

It will be interesting. The financing may be tough. These plants have big time cost over run problems. That is why the Bush admin pulled the tax dollar plug on one not so long ago.

grimpeur 5 years, 7 months ago

Coal mining. The career of the future. Sorry, Sunflower, you look like bad losers here.

jkilgore gets the cigar:

1) jobs? (low paying) for illegal aliens 2) profits? for a very few 3) electricity? for Colorado 4) negative carbon emissions? Orwellian rules apply here.

nomansland 5 years, 7 months ago

I wonder what the residents of Western Kansas that support this project will say when their aquifer gets depleted. Can't say I told ya so!

notajayhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"But it's quite entertaining to watch how eager some of you are to pee all over yourselves in claiming this deal happened solely because the evil Sebelius has left town and the fair-minded Parkinson has found the way to reason."

Not half as amusing, herr klowne, as watching you trip all over your own feet in a pathetic attempt to defend her. Her "similar" offer was a dog, Parkinson got a winner in one try. Get over it.

normal_entire_route 5 years, 7 months ago

ummmm frwent... its not just about crazy liberals and global warming. Don't get caught up in the political polarization of the day. Do you really feel good arguing FOR, polluted air, and dirty water, and the continued feet dragging towards renewable energy sources? You want that badly? Really?

grammaddy 5 years, 7 months ago

I knew it wouldn't be long before the new governor sold us out the same way he sold out his political party to run with former Governor Sebelius. I hope that Congress goes ahead with legislation to restrict carbon output and the new plant gets canned. We should be spending money to find greener energy and build a new grid instead of continuing to poison the atmosphere. By the way, can someone tell me why saving this planet is a Liberal idea?

snowWI 5 years, 7 months ago

It will be interesting to watch the coal plant situation. Indirectly, this Sunflower coal plant will lead to the continued profligate boom and expansion of the Powder River Basin coal mines in Wyoming and Idaho. The coal that is mined in these areas is low in sulfur content. However, the burning of coal still generates mercury- even with the best control technologies. A coal plant also consumes an enormous amount of water- even with the transfer of the land from being zoned agricultural to zoned industrial. I also agree with other posters that this coal plant will inadvertently cost ratepayers more in the long-term as it will likely be decommissioned well before its life expectancy with cap and trade legislation coming soon. One of the smartest investments that the government should make is to modernize our existing transmission line infrastructure with potential expansions to accomodate renewable energy projects. Much of the Plains and Midwest could be energy independent if we can expand wind farms in the Dakotas down through Texas. We DO NOT need to support the profligate economic expansions of mining areas of the Powder River Basin and the Central Appalachians. These areas should continue to remain healthy as we have a huge number of coal plants that are still operating in the near term.

notajayhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

grammaddy (Anonymous) says…

"By the way, can someone tell me why saving this planet is a Liberal idea?"

It's not.

However, it often seems the notion that anthropogenic CO2 emisions is what the planet needs to be saved from is.

Hoots 5 years, 7 months ago

I have an idea. Let’s sue the crap out of the people that just sold us out. They have to give us back two times the amount they sold us out for. I'm so sick of pay to play. I AM a republican but I have to say I'm sick of all of this. I'm conservative but not stupid. I think we all need to find an attorney...make a case...spend a few bucks one for another and sue the crap out of the people who sold all our lungs for pennies on the dollar. This might actually send a message. Just give us a couple bucks a piece and we will send the message...please. I know there are several here could help and then some. If we get enough of you we can stop this BS. Make them pay for the dollars they take. I don't want to breathe this crap for private profit. Can we form a group to end this?...please. I want to stop this NOW. A suite against these jerks is the only way to send a message and it would be a precedent A buck or too here and there could go a very long way. Make our minus a mass. Even if we just file something we have gained something.

63BC 5 years, 7 months ago

Everyone in Lawrence using electricity to post or read this article is using power generated by a coal plant---one with much higher emissions per megawatt than the one agreed upon today.

snowWI 5 years, 7 months ago

I am far more concerned about the methane being released from the thawing permafrost in Siberia. Methane is a greenhouse gas that has heat trapping abilites several times the rate of CO2. However, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be concerned about the CO2 contribution of burning coal, the mining of that coal, the energy-intensive transporation of coal, the groundwater depletion caused by the coal plant, and the mercury emissions that the coal plant generates. ALSO, you have the massive amount of fly ash waste that is leftover near the plant. Here is an example of how terrible fly ash is:

"KNOXVILLE (CN) - The Tennessee Valley Authority's massive spill of coal fly ash from its Kingston Steam Plant came "decades" after the TVA learned of problems in its giant retention pond, but used cheap fixes to save money, a class action claims in Federal Court. The Dec. 22 catastrophe spilled 1.1 billion gallons of fly ash contaminated with toxic metals across 600 acres, driving people from their homes, fouling the Clinch and Emory Rivers and covering property more than 6 feet deep in carcinogenic sludge. The spill came when an earthen dike broke at a 40-acre retention pond. The fly ash contains toxic and carcinogenic chemicals that include arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, magnesium, manganese, mercury, selenium, thallium and other metals. "The EPA has found 'very high' levels of arsenic in water samples taken near the spill, and has released data showing levels of arsenic exceeding 100 times safe levels in the water," the complaint states. Lead plaintiff Larry Mays says the TVA's negligence ruined property and endangered and annoyed residents. The plant burned 14,000 tons of coal a day and supplied electricity to 670,000 households, according to the complaints. Fly ash is the residue of the burned, powdered coal. Mays claims the Kingston Plant's retention pond had leaked twice since 2002. In the Dec. 22, 2008 spill - the largest in U.S. history - "5.4 million cubic yards of the sludge slid away. The fly ash rose 55 feet above the banks of the Emory River, which flows into the Clinch River and then the Tennessee, covering hundreds of acres in muck, causing a tidal wave of water and ash that also covered at least 12 homes, pushing one entirely off its foundation, rendering at least three uninhabitable, and cause damaged to 42 residential properties. At least 22 properties were evacuated. It also washed out a road, ruptured a major gas line, and destroyed power lines. The spill killed a huge number of fish that are washing up on the shores of several rivers, whose waters are opaque with gray ash, and compromised the water supply for millions of people living downstream in Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky."

Hoots 5 years, 7 months ago

Hey 63BC-

People here will most likely not see one bulb lit by this. This is energy being sent to other staes hense the location. Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona please keep warm and cool. This is a money grab pure and simple and Kansan's get to suck on it. Can we please go after them?

snowWI 5 years, 7 months ago

"Everyone in Lawrence using electricity to post or read this article is using power generated by a coal plant–one with much higher emissions per megawatt than the one agreed upon today"

What the heck is your point! The coal plant north of Lawrence was originally built in the 1950s. The citizens have little power to collectively force Westar to decommission the plant. The problem is that these older coal plants are basically grandfathered into the system. Of course a new coal plant is going to have less emissions. Older coal plants also must undergo routine upgrades and maintenence over time in order to comply with regulatory standards. The Holcomb coal plant is still not a good long-term solution to our energy needs. With the coming of cap and trade the power plant itself will likely have a short life expectancy. The ratepayers will have to foot the bill based on this cooperative utilities speculation on the continued expansion of coal power. I don't think we as a country should continue to support profligate large-scale mining operations in large chunks of this country when we have untapped renewable energy just waiting to be developed in many areas of the Great Plains.

snowWI 5 years, 7 months ago

"People here will most likely not see one bulb lit by this. This is energy being sent to other staes hense the location. Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona please keep warm and cool. This is a money grab pure and simple and Kansan's get to suck on it. Can we please go after them?"

I completely agree. Those sunbelt and western states need to find state-level solutions for meeting electricity demands through the local grid via increased generation, efficiency, or conservation. The population and electricity growth in those western states shouldn't come at the expense of the health, environment, and water quantity of Kansas.

Hoots 5 years, 7 months ago

Yes Snow. The reason they are building this in Kansas is because it never could happen in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Utah...and...especially Cali or any other western state. You won't be able to light a candle from the energy that comes our way. Too bad the US is the Saudi Arabia of coal. I still think we should sue our State Reps for the payoff they got for this. Even if it's only a gesture it will send a message.

deskboy04 5 years, 7 months ago

I am glad that we will have lots of electricity for my television and air conditioner.

preebo 5 years, 7 months ago

While I am severely disappointed in the outcome, as are most in my office today, this was a well-calculated move on Gov. Parkinson's part.

Follow me here. It is 2009 and we have one year to go before the next Gubernatorial election for the state of Kansas. He (Parkinson) has already said that he is not running in 2010. However, on the Republican side there is U.S. Senator Sam Brownback who has made no bones about his intentions to run in next year’s mid-term election. That being the case, we are most certainly looking at a changing of the guard here in the Sunflower State. With no real opposition, Brownback will most certainly be the next Governor, consequently, he has made it very clear what he would do if he were in the executive seat. So, reading the writing on the wall, Parkinson made a compromise with Sunflower to ensure some "green" production and reduced the number of plants by half. Now it is off the table for the next, presumably, Republican Governor of the state.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

"I am glad that we will have lots of electricity for my television and air conditioner."

None of the electricity generated by this plant will make it to eastern Kansas since it will be hooked into the western grid.

Preebo-- I think you nailed it.

Travis Shinkle 5 years, 7 months ago

Wind farms? Really? Have you people ever seen a wind farm? I'd like to see the people of Lawrence's reaction to a wind farm that is placed right outside the city limits...oh you libs would scream at the top of your voice about how the wind farm is "destroying" the scenery all the while living up to your 'not in my backyard' mentality...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

" I'd like to see the people of Lawrence's reaction to a wind farm that is placed right outside the city limits…"

I'd gladly welcome such a development-- alas, the winds in this part of Kansas don't justify large-scale wind farms.

That said, with the net metering that's part of this deal, we should see many more individual landowners around here use the limited good locations they have, so you should see lots more wind and solar going in, even if it's not on as grand a scale as full-blown wind farm.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

"What's next? The SLT?"

Thankfully, like the SLT, having the state say that this coal plant can be built is a long ways from it getting past all the rest of the obstacles it faces. Right now, I'd say the odds are still 60-40 against it ever being constructed.

Practicality 5 years, 7 months ago

It seems hypocritical to me that so many of these arguments are concerned with the pollution and carbon footprint of this one plant about 400 miles away when we have about 10 Power Plants within 75 miles of us.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

Well, that's a convenient straw man and utterly superficial, Practicality.

First, when those plants were built, the dangers of global climate change were barely known, if at all. Second, there weren't any alternatives, and now there are many. Third, the demand for the power was local-- they weren't built for the primary purpose of supplying users hundreds of miles away in other states. Fourth, the vast majority of those opposing these plants are/would be very supportive of shutting these plants down in favor of alternatives.

Fugu 5 years, 7 months ago

Two things that concern me...

1) What about KDHE's power to deny permits? Past bills have tried to strip that power away, allowing Kansas to become a breeding ground for more plants. Will KDHE still be able to do this?

2) What oversight will be in place to make sure Sunflower follows through with the CO2 offset provisions? What if they don't? Where is the enforcement?

If Sunflower can pull off a successful algae reactor for carbon sequestration, I'd love to see that.. HAHA! yah, right...

Bill Griffith 5 years, 7 months ago

DougCounty, you can check the KCC website or the fed's EIA website and find the exact locations of the units. I don't have enough time to run them down right now. Fugu, the agreement must handcuff the KDHE Secretary to only follow federal law and nothing stricter with regards to CO2. You have hit it dead-on concerning the offset provisions. The wind portion maybe enforceable as well as the ee with some fudge factor, but the algae reactor and use of no-till are major holes in this agreement.

Thats_messed_up 5 years, 7 months ago

This is great news for western Kansas. All you hippies posting your crap on here are using electricity from a much dirtier coal plant but I guess that's OK for you loser bloggers. The rest of the world is building thousands of dirty coal plants and you idiots want to keep the U.S. from building extremely clean plants. Put your money where your treehugging mouth is and move out in the country next to a wind turbine!

kmat 5 years, 7 months ago

Practicality - we can't do anything about the old plants close to us. We CAN try to do something about new poluting coal plants to be built.

Ogallala_Kid 5 years, 7 months ago

Bozo: "None of the electricity generated by this plant will make it to eastern Kansas since it will be hooked into the western grid"


It will hook to both grids. Just another lie from Bozo.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

The renewable energy industry is growing and so too is the demand for skilled “green collar” workers in manufacturing, shipping, academia, sales, finance, and more.

OzChicklet 5 years, 7 months ago

frwent (Anonymous) says…

I am very well pleased with this decision. I am not convinced one whit that this “global warming conspiricy” has any validity outside of ozone man and his book writing crusade. Carbon Dioxide is absorbed by living plants to make oxygen. Human beings and all living animal forms breathe oxygen. I have even heard some idiots say that carbon dioxide is poisin. Baloney! It exists in every carbonated beverage you open, in every vehicle that runs on petrol fuel, from the exhaled breath of every living human and animal being on earth.


Too much H2O and we drown. Too much CO2 and we suffocate. The "plants" aren't going to save us. We are deforesting and plowing up land, and spewing poison into our air and water with emissions from all sorts of sources. We are destroying nature's delicate balance and must find clean alternatives. Who cares what a wind farm looks like? I say let's be creative and make them fit into our environment much as we have with architecture in cities. I'd rather see a wind farm than coal dust and fly ash covering the landscape around coal plants - not to mention mining areas. Anyone here ever been to St. Mary's power plant? Take a drive and check it out. We keep on this course and we will be emitting more C2O that will need to be managed in the future.

Something else to think about in regard to the Ogallala aquifer. Several posts indicate how much H2O will be (or will not be) used should the coal plant be built. Ever take a look at what irrigation, drinking water, etc. in that part of Kansas and throughout the 7 other states over the aquifer has done to the aquifer itself? We have been depleting it for decades faster than it can recharge. It is shallow and with the water depletion, the pressure on the "ceiling" of the aquifer is lessening. Gonna be a mighty big sinkhole if folks don't start addressing this concern and all the environmental concerns holistically.

OzChicklet 5 years, 7 months ago

Ogallala_Kid (Anonymous) says…

Bozo: “None of the electricity generated by this plant will make it to eastern Kansas since it will be hooked into the western grid”


It will hook to both grids. Just another lie from Bozo.


Kid - please provide your source of information on the grids the plant will hook into.

Kid - please provide information on your lie detector device.

jayhaitch 5 years, 7 months ago

There's nobody out there is western Kansas! Take a look at the population distribution for the state:

 http://www.maps.com/ref_map.aspx?pid=11806

The people that build this plant will have to come from some other part of the state!

professor 5 years, 7 months ago

The Good News: the self serving narcissistic middle-aged Vogue Model is gone only one week and her tangled web of all-talk and more-gridlock went with her..

The Bad News: the self serving narcissistic middle-aged Vogue Model is now going to spin her tangled web of all-talk and more-gridlock on the rest of the country.

Progress?????

Ken Lassman 5 years, 7 months ago

Belexus, Here is the annual CO2 production from the "oil fired" Garden city peak load units, which in actuality are listed as burning natural gas (from the EIA website you referred to, as collected by the feds):

Plant annual CO2 emissions (tons) PLCO2AN   24,826.4   23,663.2

Less than 50,000 tons/year vs the proposed new plant, which would generate over 6 MILLION tons C02. Hmmm. This really seems more and more curious and bogus to me.

Ogallala_Kid 5 years, 7 months ago

@Ozchicklet: The energy will be used in part to supply members of Sunflower member cooperatives, which are eastern grid interconnected.

My lie detector device is my nose. I can smell BS a long ways away.

Fugu 5 years, 7 months ago

belexus73,

That is too bad about KDHE.

I could see the wind turbines going up, since that is the big ticket item everyone will be expecting. But everything else? I'm surprised Sunflower didn't try to add in homegrown carbon sequestering pixie dust into the mix. That has about the same proven usefulness as current algae reactors do.

I hope all of the lawyer fees and money that went into paying off our legislators will come back to bite Sunflower financially in the end. I doubt it will though.

georgeofwesternkansas 5 years, 7 months ago

You guys are funny, Oh by the way, Sunflower did get two plants approved in this deal, they just don't get the second air permit approved for two years which will be about the time construction on the first is done.

The media is not reporting this yet....

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

If there is no true mitigation of the CO2 output, because of the KDHE rulings this thing is wide open for litigation that could stall this for years-- easily long enough that EPA rulings and new CO2/cap and trade taxes come into effect, and this becomes uneconomical to build (it is, anyway-- they just couldn't totally externalize the costs of the CO2 and other pollution.)

Bill Griffith 5 years, 7 months ago

The oil junkers haven't been used in years. Page 4 of the settlement agreement instructs the KDHE Secretary to issue the permit as formerly approved by KDHE staff in 2007. I have never seen a permit done like this.

shockchalk 5 years, 7 months ago

logicsound04............funniest post of the day. Bozo has NEVER pointed out idiocy in anyone. He has shown his ignorance consistently as he dodges the truth and spreads the bs. Notajayhawk and many others have pegged him on the coal issue. Bozo is the ultimate idiot.

Practicality 5 years, 7 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"Well, that's a convenient straw man and utterly superficial, Practicality.

First, when those plants were built, the dangers of global climate change were barely known, if at all. Second, there weren't any alternatives, and now there are many. Third, the demand for the power was local— they weren't built for the primary purpose of supplying users hundreds of miles away in other states. Fourth, the vast majority of those opposing these plants are/would be very supportive of shutting these plants down in favor of alternatives."

The point is, that people need/want electricity, whether it is in Colorado or Timbuktu. What difference really does it make if the plant is right across the border in Colorado or not. We have plants right on the Kansas/Missouri border and vice versa. People in Kansas use Missouri electricity and people in Missouri use Kansas electricity. We all are breathing the same air. The local argument is ridiculous. Is your car locally made? Is the gas you use in it come from a local source? Does Kansas only consume what is locally produced? Does any place in America do that? Why should electricity be any different?

Which brings me to the second point. The people in Western Kansas who want this could complain about all the coal fired plants that have a heavy carbon footprint and pollute the air THEY beathe. But they aren't, they are just asking to be allowed to have a plant out there, WHile the majority of these polluters are on this side of Kansas. That is why it is hypocritical. Unless all of your electricity needs are being met by some other power source (which I seriously doubt that it is) who are you to tell others they can't. Why aren't you demanding that Weststar and Kansas City Power and Light reconfigure the power sources here that you utilize? Why don't you refuse to use electricity until they do?

notajayhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

Practicality (Anonymous) says…

"Unless all of your electricity needs are being met by some other power source (which I seriously doubt that it is) who are you to tell others they can't."

Whether or not herr klowne uses patchouli oil to heat his house and a team of (free-range) hamsters on a treadmill to keep his lights burning, he's still nobody to tell others what to do.

But that will never keep him from thinking he has some right to do so.

Practicality 5 years, 7 months ago

Patchouli Oil.

Now there is a pollutant that needs to be banned. I think I will write Lynn Jenkins to see if she will start the legislation. The smell of that stuff makes me want to fire hose the person wearing it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

"The point is, that people need/want electricity, whether it is in Colorado or Timbuktu."

People want lots of things, and sometimes those things are in direct conflict with each other. I'd like an inhabitable planet, which is in direct conflict with Sunflower's (and that's who wants this, not W. Kansas) desire to build a coal plant that is really only "required" so they have a place to burn the coal reserves they own.

"What difference really does it make if the plant is right across the border in Colorado or not. We have plants right on the Kansas/Missouri border and vice versa."

The difference is that Colorado and the other states where most of this power will be transmitted won't build new coal plants for the very same, good reasons that it's met such opposition here. It's just a bad idea.

"The people in Western Kansas who want this could complain about all the coal fired plants that have a heavy carbon footprint and pollute the air THEY beathe."

They should complain. Just because they aren't doesn't mean others shouldn't complain about the construction of an unnecessary and dangerous new plant.

And anyway, if this plant were being built anywhere in Kansas, I'd object. That it's in W. Kansas is immaterial. I oppose all new coal plants, whether they're here or in China. The difference is that I live in Kansas, and it's just a fact that no matter how little my influence here may be, it's much greater than the influence I have in another state, or in China. If I didn't object to coal plants in Kansas, I truly would be a hypocrite if I objected to coal plants elsewhere.

" Why aren't you demanding that Weststar and Kansas City Power and Light reconfigure the power sources here that you utilize?"

I am. I think we should shut down at least half of the existing coal plants worldwide over the next fifteen years-- more than that and faster, if possible.

Practicality 5 years, 7 months ago

"The difference is that Colorado and the other states where most of this power will be transmitted won't build new coal plants for the very same, good reasons that it's met such opposition here. It's just a bad idea."

Yes, they won't build it. But, they will buy the power, which again is just as hypocritical, for if they refused to, would there be a need to build the plant? The people in Colorado breathe the same air as we do and live on the same planet. Plus, this plant will be closer to them than us for that matter. How will a plant next to the Colorado border be any different than a plant a few miles into the state of Colorado for the people of Colorado? Answer: It won't be any different for them, except they will lose out on tax revenue. Plain and simple.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

"But, they will buy the power, which again is just as hypocritical, for if they refused to, would there be a need to build the plant? "

The power companies that are buying the power from Sunflower will do the buying. The individual consumers have little or no choice about where the power comes from. Buying green tags is about the only thing they can do, but that's mostly symbolic.

"How will a plant next to the Colorado border be any different than a plant a few miles into the state of Colorado for the people of Colorado?"

It wouldn't be a lot different for them, or us, given the prevailing westerly winds. The difference is that they've made the decision not to build any more of these plants, and that's the only reason Sunflower is trying to build these. Well, not the only reason-- It also takes a whole lot of bought-off, willfully ignorant legislators (and perhaps a governor, too.)

notajayhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"And anyway, if this plant were being built anywhere in Kansas, I'd object."

Really? No kiddin'.

"The difference is that I live in Kansas, and it's just a fact that no matter how little my influence here may be, it's much greater than the influence I have in another state, or in China."

Which is like saying buying one PowerBall ticket every ten years has a better chance of winning than not buying any at all.

"I think we should shut down at least half of the existing coal plants worldwide over the next fifteen years— more than that and faster, if possible."

Keep buying the stuff and they'll keep making it. Start by turning off your computer, herr klowne - now THAT would be a significant contribution to the planet.

notajayhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

According to the story on this in the KC Star, Parkinson promised this was just the first surprise he had to announce in what's going to be a great week for Kansas. I can't wait to see what else he has to tell us!

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