Archive for Thursday, December 16, 2010

KDHE issues air quality permit for coal-burning power plant near Holcomb

Holcomb 1, pictured above, is operating at 85 percent capacity. The Holcomb Station Project proposed by Sunflower Electric Power Corporation would add a second plant that would operate at 90 percent capacity.

Holcomb 1, pictured above, is operating at 85 percent capacity. The Holcomb Station Project proposed by Sunflower Electric Power Corporation would add a second plant that would operate at 90 percent capacity.

December 16, 2010, 9:41 a.m. Updated December 16, 2010, 3:55 p.m.

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— State officials on Thursday approved construction of an 895-megawatt coal-burning power plant, but the Environmental Protection Agency immediately announced it would review the matter.

The decision by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to issue a permit for the plant represented the latest development in a bitter political struggle that has been going on for more than three years.

"It is time to move forward with this project that Kansans justly deserve," said Earl Watkins, president and chief executive officer of Sunflower Electric Power Corp., which sought the permit.

But environmentalists said the permitting process had become a national embarrassment, corrupted by politics, and that the proposed plant's 7 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year would harm the environment and affect climate change.

KDHE issued a construction permit to Hays-based Sunflower Electric to build the plant in southwest Kansas near Holcomb.

The plant has the capacity to power up to 500,000 homes, but most of those homes would be in Colorado because most of the plant would be owned by Colorado-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

"Kansas gets the pollution. Colorado gets the power. What a deal," said Stephanie Cole, a spokeswoman for the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club.

But KDHE Acting Secretary John Mitchell defended the permit.

"I am confident that we have the best permit possible for Kansas," said Mitchell. "The Sunflower proposed expansion project meets all current state and federal requirements for issuing the permit," he said.

Mitchell's decision reversed a decision from three years ago that rocked both state and national politics.

In October 2007, then-KDHE Secretary Rod Bremby rejected Sunflower's proposal for two 700-megawatt coal-burning plants, citing the environmental and health effects of carbon dioxide emissions. It was believed to be the first time in U.S. history that a governmental body rejected a power plant based on concerns over climate change and CO2.

The Kansas Legislature tried to overturn Bremby's decision, but then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius backed him up. When Sebelius left to serve in President Barack Obama's cabinet, Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson became governor.

Parkinson immediately brokered a deal with Sunflower Electric to allow an 895-megawatt plant in exchange for the Legislature approving renewable energy legislation.

Bremby stayed on at KDHE as Sunflower sought the new permit.

As the date approached for tougher federal rules on CO2 emissions from power plants to take effect on Jan. 2, Parkinson tried to re-assign Bremby, who refused and then stepped down. Parkinson said his decision to change Bremby's job had nothing to do with Sunflower's pending permit.

Environmentalists said KDHE made its decision on Thursday to beat the upcoming federal regulations. In recent weeks, KDHE employees working on the permit have been working on weekends.

"By turning the permitting process into a race against the clock, the state has signaled that it does not value public involvement," Cole, with the Sierra Club, said.

But Acting Secretary Mitchell said the agency diligently responded to all issues raised by the public in thousands of comments made to the agency. "We were ready to make a decision," he said. Mitchell noted that he was part of the staff review that had recommended approval of Sunflower's previous permit, which Bremby denied.

Regional EPA Administrator Karl Brooks had already signaled that the agency would be looking at KDHE's work.

On Thursday, he issued a release reaffirming that.

"EPA's review will assess whether all requirements of the Clean Air Act and State Implementation Plan have been met and that the environment and public health will be protected," Brooks said.

Mitchell said he was confident that EPA would find that KDHE did a good job and that the permit protected human health and the environment. He said he couldn't consider the effect of greenhouse gases because regulations on those are not in state nor federal law at this time.

-- Statehouse reporter Scott Rothschild can be reached at 785-423-0668.

Interactive Timeline

Coal plant timeline

State officials approved the permit for a controversial 895-megawatt coal-burning electric power plant in southwest Kansas. The battle over the plant has rocked Kansas politics for more than three years.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 4 months ago

I wonder what Parkinson got to make sure this is approved before tighter regs go into effect on Jan 1?

Ralph Reed 4 years, 4 months ago

I agree, absolutely no surprise.

Brownstripe: Look at it this way. It was going to happen either now under Parkinson, or in a month under Koch Industries KS Legislature. The only problem is that when people raise health issues and so on, Brownback will be able to point a finger at Parkinson and say, "He did it, not me!"

kansastruthteller 4 years, 4 months ago

Actually it wouldn't because new EPA regs kick in next year so there was a need to get the permit issued this year or the project would have been doomed.

ENGWOOD 4 years, 4 months ago

Thank You!!!! From ALL your Friends in Western Kansas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Clark Coan 4 years, 4 months ago

EarthJustice, the legal arm of the Sierra Club, had better seek an injunction blocking the effective date of the order ASAP.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

Your sarcastic stereotyping of whatever an environmentalist is might be humorous, except that I get the distinct feeling that you actually believe what you say.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

Your sarcastic stereotyping of whatever an environmentalist is might be humorous, except that I get the distinct feeling that you actually believe what you say.

tolawdjk 4 years, 4 months ago

Good luck with that hope. It's not gonna happen.

onceinawhile 4 years, 4 months ago

Does this mean it is definitely being built?

gccs14r 4 years, 4 months ago

This project has about as much chance of being completed as the SLT does.

gccs14r 4 years, 4 months ago

It's almost guaranteed that a lawsuit is being filed as we speak.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

Thanks a million* governor!

*6.7 million, to be exact. That's the number of TONS of carbon that will be belched into the Kansas skies every year by this behemoth. That's to say nothing of all of the mercury coming downwind toward us. But Western Kansas will get its share of sacrifice too, what with the literally billions of gallons out of the aquifer that will be needed by this plant, plus the football fields of heavy metal laced coal ash that they'll have to deal with.

All so Sunflower Electric can pay off its debts by selling it to front range developers in Colorado. That's American ingenuity at its best, no?

Lets hope that the EPA steps in and stops this craziness, and they can't line up financing.

jafs 4 years, 4 months ago

LOL

Yes, I'm sure that the EPA wants to kill us all.

blindrabbit 4 years, 4 months ago

Surrounding states move forward (they see a sucker in Kansas), China implements new environmental regulations, Europe backs away from coal; Kansas take another step backward. Self immolation, dirtying our own air, pumping down our already depleted aquifer! Midwestern sanity!

georgeofwesternkansas 4 years, 4 months ago

Now in Kansas there will be 2 coal plants west of Salina, and 15 east of Salina. If there is a problem it is not in western kansas. Maybe Lawrence should cleanup it's own dog crap before it complains about the dog next door.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

And you can bet that we'd fight tooth and nail against building any new plants in eastern KS too. I look forward to the day when the state implements decent energy efficiency standards to promote less energy waste; then when it's time to retire the Lawrence Plant, Westar will have enough wind and solar to just shut it down without needing a new coal fired plant.

Sigmund 4 years, 4 months ago

DougCounty (anonymous) replies… "then when it's time to retire the Lawrence Plant, Westar will have enough wind and solar to just shut it down without needing a new coal fired plant."

Me too!. That way at night when the wind isn't blowing I won't be able to log in and read your moronic comments.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the insightful observation--huh? You really don't understand how the electrical grid already integrates wind into the mix, do you? I suggest you do your homework before you make your comments, as they come across as pretty lame.

Sigmund 4 years, 4 months ago

How do we retire the coal plant that runs night and day, windy and calm using wind and solar again?

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

It's because the wind generator is part of the larger electric grid. When the wind dies down, other sources are powered up, just like when a coal, gas, or nuclear plant goes down or up. This happens all of the time, and the current grid has no trouble integrating wind generated power into the larger grid because it is already designed to do that. As more and more wind is incorporated into the grid, the grid can be grown to accommodate it in ways that will preserve that capability. The Energy Information Agency (US govt.) sees no reason why fully 20 percent of the US electrical demand can't be provided by wind by 2050 if it is planned for in the grid.

The Rocky Mountain Institute did a study where they looked retroactively at wind speeds in the central US for a given year (2002, I think--go to their website and find out for sure: www.rmi.org ) and determined that if there were 6 wind farms spread out over several states that there would have been equivalent reliability of output as with the current coal dominated grid, because if it is calm in one area, it's likely to be windy in another area, at least in the Plains States.

Of course, there are other ways to make the system even more robust, such as combining it with solar when it becomes cheaper. This is because the calmest wind times are typically when it's sunniest. Other possibilities include using excess wind (or solar) generated electricity to run pumps that can compress air or pump water behind a reservoir, to be released at a time when the wind/sun isn't generating electricity. Wikipedia says that the efficiency on those systems is around 75%, which is pretty darn good except once the up-front capital costs are taken care of.

So you can see, retiring an old coal plant is entirely possible if you can increase energy efficiency and have a good grid with renewable power close enough to use. Hope this helps.

jafs 4 years, 4 months ago

Also, the elephant that nobody mentions much is that we can easily lower our consumption as well, which would greatly help.

jafs 4 years, 4 months ago

I have been conserving energy and water use for many decades now.

Our monthly bills are quite low - we have a variety of very efficient appliances, set our thermostat to 67-68 during the day and 56 at night, in the summer about 77 during the day and off at night unless it's blisteringly hot.

Using our computer is a very low use device compared to large appliances - central air is the largest user, followed by refrigerators, washers/dryers, dishwashers, etc.

Also we replaced all incandescent bulbs with flourescent ones some time ago.

When we called the electric company to get a monthly average, she asked if anyone lived in the house.

But thanks for the sincere suggestion.

Rick Aldrich 4 years, 4 months ago

"And you can bet that we'd fight tooth and nail against building any new plants in eastern KS too."

Fight the power! Disconnect from the grid, hypocrite.

doc1 4 years, 4 months ago

Its not about Lawrence. It's about Kansas, the poisonous mercury fallout from the burning of coal. The list can go on and on. We shouldn't be taking a step backwards.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

The issue is not whether there is enough coal so much as what it'll do to the climate if we continue to burn it. Check the latest issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, the oldest , most established scientific journal out there, and you'll see that there's a good chance that global temps could go up 4 degrees celsius (that's 7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2060 if we don't do so very serious changes to the way we live by spewing carbon into the atmosphere. In other words, the predictions about global warming are getting worse, not better, the more we know.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

Why don't you go read what a measly seven degrees increase in global temps does?

http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1934.toc

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

Once again, you are showing your ignorance. But as a matter of fact, if more folks did what we were talking about in terms of energy self reliance, energy efficiency, and renewables back in the 70s, we'd be in a much better situation today.

Liberty275 4 years, 4 months ago

Beat it. Take your algore hysteria with you. We ignored you 30 years ago when the next global ice ige age was always a decade off and we are ignoring you now. You cried wolf one time too many, now nobody is listening.

I'll personally be celebrating your loss by taking my 8 MPG Corvette (8 MPH and will convert the rubber on the tires to smoke at will, LOL I bet tire smoke is a killer greenhouse gas) to overland park today to have non-free-range wings at hooters. Just think, in one hour of driving I'll use more gas than you use in a month and in 2 hours of sitting I'll see more pretty girls than you have in your entire enviro-fascist movement. 100 percent less armpit hair on the girls too.

Go renew that and you'll see my situation will be pretty good while I enjoy some wings. I'll also be self-reliant in that I won't be a bum or a bum-clone (aka hippie) allowing some elementary-school graduate to control the means of my transport.

As for the situation today, short of the obamaunemplotmentinflation fiasco, things are really pretty peachy.

jafs 4 years, 4 months ago

The pride you show in unnecessary overconsumption is noted.

If we could put you and like minded people together such that your choices didn't affect the rest of us, other species, or the planet itself negatively, I'd say more power to you.

Jake Hess 4 years, 4 months ago

I agree with you george... the Lawrence plant is pretty old and needs upgrading badly (which I think is currently underway?).

blindrabbit 4 years, 4 months ago

george: The Lawrence coal burner is in the process of being further "cleaned-up" as best they can with BACT; those Eastern Plants you mention are all old. The Jefferies facility the most modern of that bunch and is at least 30 years old. I'm sure if a new coal burner was proposed for any area around Lawrence now it wouldn't have a prayer

Anyway, this will all come home to roost when EPA tightens air standards and finally owns up to the fact that all of Kansas is in an Air Transport District and contributes to diminished air quality to the East. Are you ready for more costly reformulated gasoline (i.e. California and St. Louis). If I were you, I'd invest in those funky gasoline nozzles they use there. I'm sure the Kansas City area is not liking this as it's air quality in the summer time occasionally exceeds the Ozone standard and is on the verge of being declared "in non-compliance". That issue scares industry away, as it requires very strict operating requierments for air emissions.

georgeofwesternkansas 4 years, 4 months ago

We are directly west of the Denver, Springs, Pueblo front range that creates times as much polution as anything west of KC and the air quality here is good. You folks in eastern kansas have created your own monster from your own stack and cars. Don't blame your problems on us, we need more power.

grammaddy 4 years, 4 months ago

You're not going to get it from this new power plant. It benefits Colorado, not Kansas.

blindrabbit 4 years, 4 months ago

george: I think you meant "East" of Denver.

ENGWOOD 4 years, 4 months ago

RIGHT DOUG CO!!!!!!!!!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Joe Hyde 4 years, 4 months ago

I wonder if the actions of an out-of-state corporation resulting in coercion of Kansas state workers (by threatening KDHE employees with job loss or demotion unless they ignore science and common sense) is a federal crime. If it is a crime, then I would like to see this thing end with some coal plant executives, construction company lobbyists and state politicians in shackles being led into a federal courthouse by U.S. Marshals.

tolawdjk 4 years, 4 months ago

Pretty bold statement there. Got the proof of threats?

grammaddy 4 years, 4 months ago

This plant's energy is going to Colorado not Kansas. Construction jobs are temporary.

sharong 4 years, 4 months ago

It will not employ more than 10 employees once the building is done! The wind farms are supplying power to Kansas. This coal plant will supply Colorado. The jet stream will carry all of the pollution from west to east and that will affect the entire state.

doc1 4 years, 4 months ago

If you could look your grandchildren with a straight face and sell them on this dirty project then your pretty evil. There are better alternatives then millions of pounds of poison pushed into the sky.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

Most homes can cut 20% of their energy consumption without doing any of what you suggest in your sarcasm, just by tightening up their homes so they don't leak as much heat/cool, and maybe using some more insulation, which can help in the summer, too. If you throw in some more energy efficient appliences, most folks will save enough money to pay for the price differentially quickly. In fact, there are some tax breaks if you do it before the end of this year, so hop to it.

Sigmund 4 years, 4 months ago

Economic and environmental reality trumps political ideology at the KHDE? Can't be true.

By the way the Staff at the KHDE APPROVED this plant as meeting or exceeding all current standards, it was just Bremby that stood in the way. http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/oct...

"In 2007, recognizing that the application met all state and federal regulations, the KDHE technical staff recommended approval of the permit."

"Construction of this facility will generate nearly $2 billion in total economic activity and support an estimated 5,900 jobs years throughout the state of Kansas. These jobs will result in $250 million in labor income and will generate over $400 million in total income. The construction project will generate more than $29 million in state and local tax revenue.

"During each year of operation, the facility will generate nearly $350 million in overall economic activity, more than 260 permanent jobs throughout the state that will pay $17 million in labor income, and almost $200 million in total income. Combined annual state and local revenues will grow by over $41 million annually."

"Ron, How is it that the Secretary can deny a permit if the staff itself recommended it? It met all the technical requirements for issuance. And Dr. Hammerschmidt had kind of an interesting comment, if not frightening to me in that sense. He said, Well, the staff has to follow the rules, but the Secretary has greater latitude." http://www.kdheks.gov/bar/sunflower/TopekaHEARING102510.pdf

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

The answer to that is simple: Bremby had the courage to bring up the looming issue of greenhouse gases, which, although the laws were not yet written, were clearly coming down the pike. Sunflower Electric was trying to slip in a quick coal plant right under the wire so it could pay off some bad debts, very analogous to a while back when a bunch of toxic waste haulers were dumping their raw waste into our streams and rivers right before new regulations were going to go into effect that would make them much more accountable for their practices.

As such, Bremby became an instant hero for looking at the big picture, calling a spade a spade and saying that if it's going to be the right, responsible thing for the planet in a year or two, it's the right thing to do today.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 4 months ago

"Economic and environmental reality trumps political ideology at the KHDE? Can't be true."

It was true up until yesterday.

Sigmund 4 years, 4 months ago

Sorry for the bad link for the quotes above. Looks like the LJW changed the capitalization of the URL in the "comment" but not the "preview" rendering "File Not Found."

"http://www.kdheks.gov/bar/sunflower/TopekaHEARING102510.pdf" (with hearing all capitals) http://www.kdheks.gov/bar/sunflower/TopekaHEARING102510.pdf

Here is a Tiny URL which eliminates capitals http://tinyurl.com/36ltshj

blondie11 4 years, 4 months ago

First of all south western Kansas is more than welcoming of the new plant and they are the only ones that are directly affected by it. Second of all, the Sierra Club should protest the real problem child of coal burning power plants, Westar right out side of Lawrence. They are continuously ranked one of the dirtiest plants in the nation. Finally the people who live in south west Kansas actually pay more than 75% more for their electric bills than this side of the state.

Sigmund 4 years, 4 months ago

blondie11 (anonymous) says… "Finally the people who live in south west Kansas actually pay more than 75% more for their electric bills than this side of the state."

While generation costs are very close to the same, the areas with a higher population density in Northeast Kansas pay less because of economies of scale it costs less to get them their electricity.

If you want constant source of electricity (night and day, windy and calm) without CO2, then build a nuclear plant. They ain't cheap and they have their own problems.

blondie11 4 years, 4 months ago

Why would I want a nuclear plant? I don't recall anything in my previous statement alluding to the fact that i'm opposed to coal burning plants. I simply believe that if people would like to protest any coal plant in Kansas, it should be the one that is right outside of Lawrence.

doc1 4 years, 4 months ago

If you could look your grandchildren with a straight face and sell them on building another nasty problem for their future as opposed to phasing out old technology then I would have to say your priorities are faulted. I agree 100% with you about the Lawrence plant, but the issue here is to not an established plant in Lawrence, its about building another one we don't need.

Sigmund 4 years, 4 months ago

Sigmund (anonymous) says… "If you want constant source of electricity (night and day, windy and calm) without CO2, then build a nuclear plant. They ain't cheap and they have their own problems. " blondie11 (anonymous) says… "Why would I want a nuclear plant?"

Didn't mean anyone in particular, it was the indefinite use of the pronoun, jeez.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indefini...

KEITHMILES05 4 years, 4 months ago

This is a good business decision for the state. Kudos for putting aside politics which the previous governor just loved to dwell on.

ksriver2010 4 years, 4 months ago

Crooked is as crooked does.

I really don't have a problem with the plant, but this whole process with removing the KDHE guy and slamming this through before the end of the year etc has been questionable. Parkinson did a good job as governor but the way this was handled looks bad.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

A good gravy train business decision for Sunflower perhaps. Why?

Because taxpayers guarantee funding for multi billion dollar construction costs and likely the insurance.

http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/solutions/unlimited-taxpayer-liability-CEDA.html

Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste

By burning away all the pesky carbon and other impurities, coal power plants produce heaps of radiation

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste

Flap Doodle 4 years, 4 months ago

Internal combustion lawnmowers are killing the planet! Ban them now!

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 4 months ago

Gasoline powered lawn mowers are massively polluting. I'm sure Merrill can explain from personal experience.

ENGWOOD 4 years, 4 months ago

"slamming this through" Good Lord how long have we been debating this issue? Thank You KDHE and Governor Parkinson for your Vision.

DATE: August 2, 2001 SUNFLOWER ELECTRIC AND INTERNATIONAL ENERGY PARTNERS TO DEVELOP 600 MW POWER PLANT IN SOUTHWEST KANSAS Sunflower Electric Power Corporation and International Energy Partners, L.P., today announced plans to develop a 600 megawatt coal-fired power plant near Garden City, Kansas. The new plant will be a joint venture between Sunflower and IEP, a developer of independent power projects based in Bethesda, Maryland. Sand Sage Power, LLC,

WWW.SUNFLOWER.NET

the project company formed by Sunflower and IEP, will own the plant. The facility, estimated to cost between $600-$800 million, will be project-financed with non recourse Debt.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 4 months ago

"Slamming this through" is what happens when someone loses a political debate. No amount of study or debate will be enough until that side wins. However, when that same side wants something, it wants it with very little study. It's a common tactic. You can tell exactly what guys like Merrill want by looking at what he believes needs study and what he believes should pass immediately.

independant1 4 years, 4 months ago

Good deal, get it built. Cheap coal fueled energy is a good thing. We should exploit coal further to keep energy costs down.

Alceste 4 years, 4 months ago

Burning coal is the future. Dirty coal, clean future:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/12/dirty-coal-clean-future/8307/

read it and weap....really, really hard to refute the truth....

Alceste 4 years, 4 months ago

....errr....weep.....I'm a product of the Lawrence Public School System.

Chris Scafe 4 years, 4 months ago

So does everyone from the Lawrence school system misspell weep?

georgeofwesternkansas 4 years, 4 months ago

The origional plan for sunflower was to build a nucelar plant. Guess what, the governmant would not allow it and forced them to build coal. Now there is a 25 year permitting process to build nucelar which forces the finished product to cost 0.15 per Kw.

This argument about carbon is so lame and old. Please tell me how to create a carbon atom and how it got into coal? Are we assuming that it was never in the air?

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

Yep, it was in the air, all right. And guess what? The Carboniferous Age, approximately 250-300 million years ago, was characterized by at least 5 times as much CO2 in the atmosphere. And guess what? The climate was much, much warmer. Go figure.

Alceste 4 years, 4 months ago

george....read the Atlantic piece I posted the link too...it'll help you understand the power of coal and where atomic power fits into the equation.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

George, Alceste, Ted Nace, author of Climate Hope did a review of the Atlantic Monthly piece, and, well, I think you should read it:

"This James Fallows piece ("Dirty Coal, Clean Future," Atlantic Monthly , Dec. 2010) is an embarrassment. He knocks solar energy because it costs 18 cents a kWh, but doesn't show any evidence that coal with CCS is substantially cheaper. Not only is CCS expected to cost roughly the same, it's not actually available yet whereas large-scale solar thermal, large-scale solar PV, and wind facilities are currently running and being expanded on multiple continents. He ignores the fact that even if CCS works, it will only reduce greenhouse gases by 67%-78%, because more mining means more methane releases etc.

CCS fails a life-cycle analysis. Because of their high energy requirements, CCS requires large amounts of additional coal to be mined, and the mining, transport, and usage of the additional coal increases emissions of global warming gases, thereby undermine the benefit of CCS. One study estimated a CCS system that removed 85% to 98% of carbon emissions would actually only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 67% to 78% due to these additional emissions.

Like many people, Fallows can't seem to wrap is mind around the fact that solar and wind are actually happening. He plays with time periods to claim that output from coal is rising faster than wind and solar. (Why did he compare 1997 to 2008 when the EIA releases the latest numbers every month?) In fact, from 1997 to the most recent 12 months, generation from coal declined from 1,845,000 gigawatt hours to 1,838,000 gigawatt hours, whereas renewables (wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) went from 77,000 GWh to 152,000 GWh.

Fallows praises Chinese research on in-situ coal gasification, a technology that has been "around the corner" since it was proposed by Sir William Siemens in 1868. Here's Richard Heinberg in "Blackout" explaining why underground coal gasification is unlikely to become a significant source of energy:

"Some highly inflated claims have been made regarding the potential of this technology to turn a large proportion of coal resources into reserves. However, the reality is that UCG is only practical if coal seams possess special properties. They must be between 300 and 1,900 feet undergound (preferably more than 1,000 feet), with a seam thickness of more than 15 feet. There must be minimal discontinuities in the seam, and no large water aquifers close by. The coal itself must have ash content less than 60 percent. Altogether, this description applies to only a small portion of the world's coal reserves. The World Energy Council estimate that UCCG will increase economically recoverable reserves by only 600 million tons..." (Richard Heinberg, Blackout, page 136-137)

Alceste 4 years, 4 months ago

I read that jive already....before you posted it.

We LIVE in a world of "What is"....not "What if...".

Dirty coal is CLEAN Energy. Period.

I fully support wind, solar, atomic, and hydro, but it just won't work as it is not enough. When one looks at "things" from a global perspective.....COAL is the future. It's not as "bad" as it is made out to be. PRAGMATISM.....we must live with it.....

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

"I read that jive already....before you posted it."

Now that's a particularly devastating, point-by-point refutation of Nace's critique of the Fallows article if I ever saw one!

Excuse me for interrupting your sloganeering. I keep mistaking this forum as a place where dialogue can take place for more than a few interchanges.

jafs 4 years, 4 months ago

Wouldn't that be nice?

Well, we can still hope.

Alceste 4 years, 4 months ago

"Hope" is NOT a strategy.....and THAT is a MAJOR problem around these here parts.

COAL is the answer....like it or not....the facts are irrefutable....and that is not to say that wind, hydro, and atomic need to be upgraded and implemented, but we gots to work with what we gots. We ALL want our color tv's, a/c systems, and grow lights.....

jafs 4 years, 4 months ago

I meant we can hope for actual dialogue on these comments.

Alceste 4 years, 4 months ago

Look....I'm a "...little old man..."; Ma is a "....little old woman...." so claimed not by us but by the comunity at large and the ilk we have to interact with to got our just dues..... We're already at 55f at night (use an electric mattres pad and HIGHLY recommned it....works GREAT and saves money); we have a 95% efficient natural gas furnace and we're doing the best we can with what we have.....and it's darn cold in this house....even wearing wool sweaters.....how much more you want us to suffer, "DougCounty"?? Methinks you have no clue what it is like to be on a fixed income and doing the best with what we got.....Please....SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP....

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

Then I daresay that you're not part of the problem, and congratulations on your having enough foresight to install an energy efficient furnace even thought it cost more up front. I just helped my mom install a 93% efficient propane furnace and look forward to seeing it knock her bills down as she is on a fixed income too. And she has a wood insert in her fireplace to back it up and I just got a multi-fuel burner to install in my home, too.

If more folks did what you did, we'd be replacing the coal burners sooner, not later.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

Yes, it's disgusting how all forms of life seem to be sacred to those environmentalists. Where did they get such wacko ideas? Why would they care about how we treat God's creation?

Alceste 4 years, 4 months ago

DougCounty:

I appreciate your reference to the Atlantic article, but did YOU READ IT????

The numbers simply don't lie: HATE on coal all U want....but the pragmatic fact is it is the future. Most certainly, wind, solar, and hydro fuel needs to be tapped...but it won't carry the weight or the burden of USA demands. Lower these demands (GOOD LUCK!!! HHHAHAHHAHAHAH) and perhaps the formula changes.

independant1 4 years, 4 months ago

Burn coal while it's cheap and plentifull. Go ahead with the feel good heavily subsidized expensive toni wind/solar that just can't produce enough energy and revenue to stand on it's own. There are those that wish to pay more for energy, let them buy the expensive stuff . Let the market decide.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

Here we go again with the subsidies. Do I have to pull out all the links again to show that the fossil fuel subsidies, including coal, have been larger and more continuous than anything that renewables have ever received. At least you didn't call it free market. Already new wind is cheaper than new coal, carbon sequestered coal or nuclear, which is why so much more wind and solar were installed last year compared to either coal or nukes. Nukes, of course are the all-time, ultimate corporate socialist project. Care to hear more?

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

yep, just as I thought--not really interested in dialogue. ho hum.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

If you're worried about soviet lifestyle, then I'd look at the way the government is bankrolling the big corporate projects like nuclear power, coal gasification and other huge, centralized projects that get guaranteed "loans" that never get paid back, kinda like the one that Sunflower Electric got from the government to build the first power plant. If that's not communist, it's certainly corporate socialism that makes the average citizen more dependent not less dependent.

Solar and wind can be locally owned and operated by municipalities, and what is called distributed energy can create a much less centralized, dependent economy that allows folks to do what they want with much less interference from those who want to control your life.

Use your head, buddy.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

That's a tricky place to defend, I think. What about local roads? City, county and state law enforcement? hospitals? Water treatment? Sewage?

All of these things are subsidized and collectivized in addition to our electrical generation systems and distribution grids. I'm not saying that nothing should be subsidized; I'm just saying that the field should be leveled, which would entail quite a drop in big corporate subsidies and a jump in renewable subsidies, soas to make the fossil fuels pay more of their externalized costs and provide economic stability for the renewables and efficiencies so that they can attract more investment.

jafs 4 years, 4 months ago

Have you met Liberty One yet?

Kindred spirits, it seems.

notanota 4 years, 4 months ago

Having actually visited Soviet block countries back when the USSR existed, I find the comparison ironic. Soviet countries were horribly polluted. You could tell you'd crossed Checkpoint Charlie by the smell of the air alone.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

The point of this thread, believe it or not, was the unequal distribution of subsidies, notanota, and the point I was trying to make was not the nature of the pollution between the two economic systems, which we've done an incredibly better job at, but the similarity of subsidies that has developed in both systems, i.e. huge subsidies that favor the few without regard for true economic forces. Such has been the case all along for nuclear, and seems to be developing for carbon sequestered coal, coal tar and other big, centralized approaches to energy production, especially compared with distributed energy production systems such as rooftop solar, municipally owned wind and other more decentralized approaches that would give localities true independence. It's a point lost on all the libertarians roaming this site, which is the true irony in my opinion.

Jake Hess 4 years, 4 months ago

I work in the wind energy industry I can support this plant. With the new project going forward, more high-transmission power lines can be built (hopefully not just west to CO but east across the state as well). Without more high capacity lines, which are incredibly expensive (some 2 million per mile), wind farms cannot get more energy on the grid through power purchase agreements with major utilities. And let's face it, Kansas is a windy state and power will always be sold to other states... it's just how business is done these days and it works well. Western KS does need jobs, and good for them! I am an environmentalist, yes, and do see carbon emissions as a complex issue, but we must move forward with energy growth--wind, solar, and coal--as demand generally increases. On a side, energy demand has actually decreased (or so I've heard) due to a sluggish economy.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 4 months ago

Newyawk, Don't know if you are disingenuous or misinformed, but either way, you need not worry about depending on another Holcomb plant to provide electric transmission lines to develop wind generation in our great state. The Kansas legislature set up the KS Electric Transmission Authority (KETA) to identify transmission needs with exactly this in mind, and out of this, transmission lines were identified and ITC has already started on the first phase, an upgraded line going from Spearville to Axtell, NE. A second phase will be from Hays to Ellis County, then another phase from Ellis County to Nebraska. finally plans are in the works for upgrading from Spearville south into Oklahoma.

You're right about decreased energy demand. That makes the coal plant even less necessary as all electric generation companies in KS have no real need for expansion at this point. If you are truly interested in lowering carbon emissions, then you should be working on figuring out ways to increase the percentage of wind output to the stated goal of 20 percent wind/renewables by 2020 in this kind of economic environment. Yet another coal fired plant will only make the goal harder to reach.

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