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Archive for Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sunflower Electric submits application for coal-fired plant

January 13, 2010, 1:24 p.m. Updated January 13, 2010, 5:10 p.m.

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— A controversial power plant proposal is under consideration again.

Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. has filed a revised permit application for an 895-megawatt coal-burning unit near Holcomb in southwest Kansas.

The application was submitted to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment whose staff will conduct a review that will take from three to six months, the agency reported Wednesday.

Following the review, public hearings will be held to receive comment on the proposal.

“After the public comment period, KDHE will address any concerns and make revisions as necessary to prepare the permit for final issuance,” the KDHE news release said.

Sunflower Electric previously wanted to build two 700-megawatt units. Most of the power was to be sold out of state. But in October 2007, KDHE Secretary Roderick Bremby denied the permits, citing the effects of the plants’ potential carbon dioxide emissions on health and environment.

Bremby’s decision was hailed by environmentalists nationwide, but produced a bitter political fight in Kansas as Republican legislators blocked “green” energy legislation in an attempt to override the permit denial.

When former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who stood by Bremby’s decision, left office last year to lead the federal health and human services department, Gov. Mark Parkinson brokered a deal in May to allow Sunflower to build one coal-fired plant in return for legislative approval of the so-called renewable energy legislation.

Since then, President Barack Obama’s administration has sought to regulate C02 emissions because of their effect on climate change.

During the review period, KDHE said it and Sunflower “will also be coordinating with the Environmental Protection Agency, to address any federal requirements.”

The Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club opposes the construction of the plant.

“From both an economic and environmental perspective, we know that there are better options available to Sunflower than building an oversized, unneeded coal plant that is a risk to ratepayers,” said Stephanie Cole of the Sierra Club.

Sunflower has defended its proposal as needed to meet the energy needs of neighboring states. It says the facility will be among the cleanest-burning coal plants in the country.

Comments

Bill Griffith 4 years, 3 months ago

The difference is the capital cost. A 10% return on ee at 50 million dollars is 5 million dollars. A 8% return on a new coal plant costing 800 million dollars is 64 million dollars. The rate of return is lower but the actual dollars is much higher. The ee rate of retrun in Kansas is generally higher than a new coal or gas plant as set by the legislature-but it hasn't encouraged ee to displace a new fossil fuel source of generation up to this point. As far as the cost of the power-the company doesn't factor that in to much since they have in all probability filed for predetermination with the PUC to guarantee they will get their money back on their investment. They are guaranteed the rate increase in advance.

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gr 4 years, 3 months ago

If I understand you right, to keep everything apples to apples, let's say: eeAcme invests 50K and gets 10% coalAcme invests 50K and gets 8%

But, ee has less costs because it's cheaper. (Why do they get 10%?)

So, we have 10% - x = profit But then, we have 8% - x*y = profit.

I'm still having trouble seeing how a company who makes less income, costs more (you said not cheaper power), and larger investment makes more profit.

Looks like to me the eeAcme makes more money, has less cost, has less investment would be soaring and they would be building them all over the place!

Maybe if you could show me some real hard numbers of an actual instance instead of "let's say" or "for example" type of conjecturing.

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Bill Griffith 4 years, 3 months ago

Gr, you would be correct if the ee system invested 10 times more. That is the key. But ee investments have historically been paltry compared to investments in large baseload units. For example if Acme utility invested 50 million dollars over 5 years in ee, the PUC may give them a rate of return of let's say 10% which is 5 million dollars over roughly 5 years. But if they can obtain capital financing for a new coal plant and it costs 800 million dollars and the PUC grants an 8% rate of retrun, then Acme gets 64 million dollars plus the local community gets some permanent jobs and a nice chunk for the local tax base-alongside the particulates, mercury, and soot from the plant. Since they are regulated they will have a predetermination from the PUC on a guaranteed rate of return on the capital investment which will include rate increases for the customers to cover the costs. A good gig if you can get it.

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gr 4 years, 3 months ago

belexus73: "For example, it is cheaper from a customer's point of view if a utility invests in energy efficiency. However, a utility can often make more money by investing in a larger fossil fuel plant and get a rate of return similar to the ee but get it from an investment 10 times as large."

Could you expand this thought some. I'm having trouble seeing how an utility could make more money if it costs them more both to produce and to invest.

Saying and assuming energy efficient systems can be sold for the current price, how can increased cost of investment and increased cost of production generate more money? Would that idea also hold true if energy efficient systems invested 10 times more? Then again, would they make even more money if it was 20 times?

The "similar" rate is what makes the money. Any higher subtractions reduce the profits.

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Liberty275 4 years, 3 months ago

"Westar's service center in Lawrence is heated and cooled by geothermal energy"

So is George Bush's ranch. There's a giant chasm between using the temperature-stable top 50 feet of soil to heat/cool a building and drilling deep enough to find rock that is hundreds of degrees in temperature to power an electrical plant.

That said, if we adopted geothermal, the stupid hippies would just start complaining about humans stealing mother earth's heat.

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none2 4 years, 3 months ago

belexus73 (Anonymous) says…

Liberty275, Westar's service center in Lawrence is heated and cooled by geothermal energy and the facility received a Silver rating on its LEED certification. They may offer tours.

Belexus, You and Liberty275 are talking about different usages of the term geothermal. In places like Iceland (Wyoming's Yellow Stone could have the same thing), you have heated waters due to the fact that it is located on a hot zone (ie think of valcanoes and geyers like Old Faithful). So in Iceland you can have spas with naturally heated water. You can have steam heated homes. You can actually take advantage of such geological activity to have geothermal power plants -- where they can use steam to turn turbines which in turn generate electricity. For such uses of the term, Kansas is not geolotically useful for geothermal.

Now for your useage you are talking about geothermal heat pumps. That is about saving energy on heating and cooling by moving energy (heat) instead of having to generate energy (heat). Regular heat pumps work on the same principle, but they do heat transfer with the outside air. Geothermal transfers with the ground -- or they can be setup to transfer with a pond if you happen to have one so big. If you have a pond or land where they can either drill down (verticle loop) or tear up a large area of land (horizontal loop), then you can use geothermal heat pumps.

In the summer time you take advantage of the fact that the temperature at the bottom of a pond or underground is cooler than your building. Likewise, in the winter you take advantage of the fact that the bottom of a pond or under ground is warmer than your house.

The problem witih geothermal heat pump systems is that while they are more effecient than standard air exchange heat pumps, they cost a LOT more money. Putting in a loop costs a lot of money up front.

Weststar is using geothermal heat pumps. From the looks of the picture in the following article, they must be using a vertical heat pump. For a large building, you would have to have a LOT of land or a really big pond to use another method.

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Bill Griffith 4 years, 3 months ago

gr, on the "common sense" theme...a major problem in having a pure market/common sense is institutional and regulatory barriers. For example, it is cheaper from a customer's point of view if a utility invests in energy efficiency. However, a utility can often make more money by investing in a larger fossil fuel plant and get a rate of return similar to the ee but get it from an investment 10 times as large.

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Bill Griffith 4 years, 3 months ago

Liberty275, Westar's service center in Lawrence is heated and cooled by geothermal energy and the facility received a Silver rating on its LEED certification. They may offer tours.

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barrypenders 4 years, 3 months ago

Putin says he is worried about "Gorebal Cooling". I'm with Putin. Cooling is scary. Plentiful coal, evolved here by the hands of unversal powers to be used by lifeforms that evolved after it. Evolution will continue. The process must be completed. Coal must be used.

Stimulus, Coal Burning, and Posercare live unprecedented

Darwin bless us all

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Les Blevins 4 years, 3 months ago

“From both an economic and environmental perspective, we know that there are better options available to Sunflower than building an oversized, unneeded coal plant that is a risk to ratepayers,” said Stephanie Cole of the Sierra Club. This is true and I'm happy to say that Mr. Earl Watkins has become aware of the proposal my company has made; that distributed energy be the "better option". I've now spoken with Mr. Watkins and he seems genuinely interested in making Sunflower's customers aware of it as well. My original letter to Sunflower Electric went in the mail almost two years ago. Anyone wanting to read it can have a copy emailed to them by writing to LBlevins@sunflower.com with "sunflower letter" in the subject line.

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Liberty275 4 years, 3 months ago

"Cheaper energy comes by way of wind,solar,geo-thermal and hydro power. Why?"

Ummmm, because you can have rolling blackouts when mother nature decides not to cooperate? They are using that ploy in venezuela now, reducing the bill by four hours worth every other day. LOL.

Except geothermal. I'm not sure we can drill deep enough to find the heat to run a geothermal plant anywhere in kansas.

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Healthcare_Moocher 4 years, 3 months ago

Bring it on, especially since the global warmest have been found to be twisting the truth.

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Flap Doodle 4 years, 3 months ago

If only someone had copy/pasted the same set of links about HR 676 enough times, we'd have all the clean energy we could ever use.

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puddleglum 4 years, 3 months ago

common sense has little to do with economic or political forces in this country-especially when it comes to people getting rich, and obstruction of anything 'green'. btw-common sense says: in a free market, capitalist society, there would be plenty of competition to ensure that several companies are able to compete for your utility business and avoid monopolies.

yeah, well-like I said.

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gr 4 years, 3 months ago

babboy, whether I could build a company or not doesn't remove the question. Why did you think so?

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BABBOY 4 years, 3 months ago

Like you could build a company Gr. Common sense says that makes your post moot.

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gr 4 years, 3 months ago

"Cheaper energy comes by way of wind,solar,geo-thermal and hydro power. Why?"

Common sense says that if it's cheaper, there'd be someone out there cashing in on it. Look at ethanol. It has less energy in it, but is sold at almost the same price. So, wouldn't it make sense for all these cheaper energy methods be employed for companies to make larger profits?

But, if common sense doesn't enter into it, could you show some numbers to inspire me to develop a company and cash in on the profits by selling electricity for just a little under the going price?

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Cheaper energy comes by way of wind,solar,geo-thermal and hydro power. Why?

*One reason is all those are local to Kansas.

*Another reason is they all pay back much much quicker than the most expensive sources aka coal and nukes.

*Wall Street Journal noted that both coal and nuke are too expensive to suggest investing, However the new cleaner les expensive sources are on the table.

*The only known source to insure and finance more new expensive and toxic energy sources are we the taxpayers courtesy of our elected officials. Yes WE the taxpayers are insuring coal and nuke plants as we speak in addition to paying our bills each month. Plus paying subsidies to make our monthly bills appear affordable.

  • The cost of so called "clean coal" are an unknown factor therefore a risky investment for Wall Street.

*The concept of coal and nuke power is dumb economics paid for by taxpayers.

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rdave 4 years, 3 months ago

Yes the app goes to the KDHE and the hearings and ultimate process is under it's jurisdiction but that little fact didn't seem to to deter the cherubs at the capital bldg to find time to focus on it.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Cheaper energy comes by way of wind,solar,geo-thermal and hydro power. Why?

*One reason is all those are local to Kansas.

*Another reason is they all pay back much much quicker than the most expensive sources aka coal and nukes.

*Wall Street Journal noted that both coal and nuke are too expensive to suggest investing, However the new cleaner less expensive sources are on the table.

*The only known source to insure and finance more new expensive and toxic energy sources are we the taxpayers courtesy of our elected officials. Yes WE the taxpayers are insuring coal and nuke plants as we speak in addition to paying our bills each month. Plus paying subsidies to make our monthly bills appear affordable.

*The concept of coal and nuke power is dumb economics paid for by taxpayers.

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The_Original_Bob 4 years, 3 months ago

The app goes to KSHE not the stooges.

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rdave 4 years, 3 months ago

Whew....that was close. For a minute I thought the Legislators were going to have to focus on the state economic situation.

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