Archive for Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Legislature considering delays in renewable energy standards

February 5, 2013


— Topeka — The debate about climate change continues, and the discussion has now made its way to the Kansas Legislature.

The Senate Standing Committee for Utilities is proposing to delay or modify the mandates established by the Renewable Energy Standards Act that would relieve utilities’ requirements to use more renewable fuels.

Proponents and opponents of the standards debated their future at a Utilities committee hearing on Tuesday, a followup to a joint House-Senate hearing on the issue last Thursday.

The act, which was passed in 2009, required major utilities companies to have the capacity to generate 10 percent of their energy through a renewable source by 2011. It also calls for the companies to have the capacity to generate 15 percent of their energy through a renewable source by 2016 and 20 percent by 2020.

The Senate Standing Committee for Utilities introduced a bill last week that would extend the 15 percent mandate from 2016 to 2018, and the 20 percent mandate from 2020 to 2024. It would also allow the KCC to delay the 15 and 20 percent mandates if “good cause” is shown. “Good cause” includes increased costs to customers.

“Our renewable standards are a failure,” said Rep. Charlotte O’Hara, R-Overland Park. “They resulted in higher energy costs, ... and are not the answer to our energy independence. It’s time to recognize this failure, repeal the RPS and be free from these crippling energy mandates.”

The enactment of the Kansas Renewable Standards Act in 2009 permitted the construction of an 895-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Holcomb, through an agreement reached between former Gov. Mark Parkinson’s administration and Sunflower Electric Power Corp. But in January 2012, a court ruled that the power plant could not be built until after an environmental review.

“The power plant expansion has not occurred and is not expected to occur in the future because of lawsuits and restrictions,” said Energy and Environmental Policy Chairman Rep. Dennis Hedke. “There’s still folks not at all happy that the plant has not been allowed to move forward.”

Hedke would like to see further changes in the renewable energy standards. While he does not think a repeal of the Kansas Renewable Energy Act would happen, he said that there is a chance it may be modified.

“Even if you just took the first part of it, the 2015 standards, and live with them, and removed the 20 percent mandate, then you would still have a significant modification,” he said. “Modifications of the mandates is a high probability in the Senate and the House.”

According to a survey conducted by the University of Illinois in 2009, the prevailing perspective of scientists is that climate change is happening, and that it is human-induced. The 3,146 scientists who participated in the survey were located through the American Geological Institute’s Directory of Geoscience Departments. When asked if human activity has been a significant factor in changing the mean global temperatures, 82 percent said yes.

Hedke, a consulting geophysicist at Hedke-Saenger Geoscience Ltd., which has clients in the oil and energy industry, disagrees with some of the scientists’ views on what’s happening to the climate. He arranged for the Joint Committee on Energy and Environmental Policy to hear arguments last week that contradict some of these common beliefs about climate change, in particular about the effects of rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels.

“The driving force for moving in the direction of producing the most renewable energy as possible has all been wound up or related to the suggestion that CO2 is bad,” Hedke said. “There is a lot of data and evidence out there that clearly contradicts that. Most people are not aware of that, some people may be somewhat aware of it, some may have seen that data and don’t want to believe in it. In the scientific community, which I am a part of, credible data like that has been largely ignored or set to the sidelines. I wanted to make sure our committee members got a chance to see the real data.”

Two of the speakers invited to last week’s hearing argued that CO2 does not have a negative effect on the climate, and that rising levels of it are beneficial for plant and human life.

“There is no experimental data that exists that supports the view that the Earth’s climate is changing in any dangerous way,” said Willie Soon, an astrophysicist and geoscientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who is known as a climate change skeptic. According to a case study conducted by environmental activism group Greenpeace, Spoon has “received substantial funding from the fossil fuel industry for most of his scientific career, and heavy corporate funding in the last decade.”

John Christy, a climatologist at Alabama State University who is also a climate change skeptic, suggested to the committee that creating legislation to invest in renewable energy would be ineffective and expensive.

“If you choose to make regulations about carbon dioxide, that’s OK. You as a state can do that; you have a right to do it,” Christy said. “But it’s not going to do anything about the climate. And it’s going to cost, there’s no doubt about that.”

However, Johannes Feddema, a climate scientist and professor at Kansas University, had a different perspective in his testimony. He said that decreases in emissions and an investment in renewable energy on the local level would add up to help globally.

“With all of our engineers here in Wichita, some of them out of work, we should be able to come up with better ways of getting energy without putting out all these emissions,” he said. “We are one of the windiest states in the country; we should be the leading experts in wind energy technology in the world. But we are not.”

Representatives from the Wind Coalition, Next Era Energy Resources, Kansans for Clean Energy, Vestas Wind Systems and Infinity Wind Power provided testimony against Senate Bill 82 at Tuesday’s Utilities hearing. These groups said were concerned that loosening the renewable standards would decrease economic activity stimulated by the opportunities for wind energy in the state.

“Modifying the RPS would absolutely send a strong negative signal that would likely cripple the emerging export market,” said Matt Riley, CEO at Infinity Wind Power. “To my knowledge, not one of the 30 other states with an RPS has negatively modified or repealed that important policy. Kansas would be the first to do so, and it would send a shockwave through our industry, saying, ‘Thank you very much for the $3 billion of investment last year, but you’re not welcome here anymore.’”

The Energy and Environmental Policy Committee will hear from two more scientists on Tuesday, Feb. 12.


Phillbert 5 years, 3 months ago

Let's say climate change isn't real. That's a statement completely contradicted by all respected (i.e. non-oil and coal industry funded) science, but for insane argument's sake, let's say that.

You're still not going to have any water to run your coal-fired power plants given what's happening to the aquifer:

Aquifer sees 2nd largest decline on record in 2012

We have lots of wind and sun in Kansas. We don't have lots of coal or water. Which does it make long-term economic sense to use?

chootspa 5 years, 3 months ago

Next up, the tobacco industry will parade a series of experts to tell us how cigarettes are like push-ups for your lungs and are great for children.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 3 months ago

Let's call a spade a spade: ALEC, that special interest consortium set up by vested corporate interests like the Koch Brothers and other fossil fuel multinationals have targeted Renewable Portfolio Standards for downgrading/eliminating by 1) spreading misinformation about the impact it has on energy prices and 2) by providing industry-written legislation to shove through state legislatures. This attempted railroading in no way looks out for the interest of the average citizen and makes me wonder who these legislators have pledged their allegiance to--it's certainly not to the people they are supposed to be serving.

The denialist testimony is beyond serious consideration if you look at the details; if you would like to learn more about Mr. Christy and his history of misinformation, I suggest you check this out:

And as far as the "statistics" that show that RES have driven up consumer energy prices, I suggest you read a real analysis about the impacts of having a Renewable Energy Standard here:

Water 5 years, 3 months ago

Am I reading this correctly?

"Our renewable standards are a failure,” said Rep. Charlotte O’Hara, R-Overland Park. “They resulted in higher energy costs, ... and are not the answer to our energy independence. It’s time to recognize this failure, repeal the RPS and be free from these crippling energy mandates.”"

Am I too believe the people of Overland Park are having difficulties paying their electric bill? What "...crippling energy mandates?" What?! Raising a family of octupuses in Sub saharan Africa is difficult. Lowering your electricity consumption in a world with readily accessible internet research and commerce.....EASY!!!

ljwhirled 5 years, 3 months ago

Wow, just, wow. As we enter another year of drought and another "hotest year on record".

I guess the good news is that in 10 or 20 years rural counties won't have the population left to elect these moronic yahoos. With no water and no farm income, they'll be an empty wasteland of abandoned farms.

jayhawklawrence 5 years, 3 months ago

That was my response also. Wow. Just wow.

A double wow.

snitty 5 years, 3 months ago

An idiot wind is blowing hot out of Topeka. Every quack in the climate denial industry is being asked to opine at the behest of the oil industry and its bought politicians. They failed to drive us off the fiscal cliff so they will drive us off the environmental cliff by denying reality. The Kansas statehouse is a loony bin.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

This thinking is straight out of the KOCH oil and petro chemical handbook known as ALEC.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that.

Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights.

These so-called "model bills" reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations.

In ALEC's own words, corporations have "a VOICE and a VOTE" on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state. DO YOU

--- United States of ALEC – Bill Moyers

--- ALEC – The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in State Legislatures

--- ALEX EXPOSED – The Koch Connection

--- ALEC – Ghostwriting The Law for Corporate America


--- ALEC Private Schools - Corporate Education Reformers Plot Next Steps at Secretive Meeting

Ken Lassman 5 years, 3 months ago

By the way, the survey link in this article is a secondary report of the degree of consensus in the scientific community. The actual survey report, published in the Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences can be found here:

While the CNN article reports that there is an 80-90% consensus in the scientific community, the PNAS survey points to a much stronger consensus among actively publishing professional climatologists of 97-98%. While this survey was done in 2009, since then any number of professionally relevant institutions have come out in full agreement about the validity of climate change and humanity's role in it including the American Meteorological Association, the American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union among them.

To have some professional denialists come in and testify to the contrary in front of the legislature is pure politics and in no way represents the scientific consensus that persists and gets stronger every day with the many lines of data being collected that are strengthening our understanding of climate change and our role in it.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 3 months ago

Actually, as usual, you have not a clue. There are no additional taxes on electric cars, and, in fact, there is a $7500 tax CREDIT for those who really care about the environmment.

Again, what is your real issue? Koch relative?

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 3 months ago

Next week, the committee will hear a bill to lift the onerous ban on CFCs.

Testimony will be provided on how destroying the ozone layer is good, not bad. The bill will then be amended to lift restrictions on DDT and other banned chemicals and pollutants.

Kansas -- where the 20th century never happened.

Joe Hyde 5 years, 3 months ago

Virtually all electrical output from the Sunflower generating station is to be exported to neighboring states? Why is that?

It's because the legislatures and regulatory agencies in those states earlier refused to approve construction of that plant inside the territorial borders of their states, due to deep concerns about the station's damaging environmental impacts.

Neighboring states are perfectly willing to import Sunflower's electrical power while Kansas despoils its own territorial environment to provide the supply. And our conservative Republican legislators and governor stand ready to help with that self-destructive task.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

Charlotte O'Hara likely could be sold a car that gets unlimited mpg. Charlotte O Hara would not know that the vehicle had no engine for some time....... but she would love talking about those unlimited mpg's.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

Charlotte O Hara needs to do some homework. Why does this new breed of republican not want less expensive energy sources? Those Koch boys and ALEC are truly making you appear to be stupid.

Charlotte O Hara think about these sources from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

A combination of new energy sources would produce cleaner and more efficient energy. Additionally this combination would not only provide way more jobs throughout the states but also safer employment.

Rebuilding economies is a good idea. With less expensive sources an even better idea.

The Plan:



Bio Mass

Geo Thermal

Hydro Power

deec 5 years, 3 months ago

While Kansas paid-for pols spout anti-climate change rhetoric, the world's true rulers like the IMF and the World Bank are joining in sounding the alarm. I guess they must also be wild-eyed treehuggers in disguise.

World Bank president Jim Young Kim said “If there is no action soon, the future will become bleak.”

IMF director Christine Lagarde: “the real wild card in the pack” of economic pivot points is “Increasing vulnerability from resource scarcity and climate change, with the potential for major social and economic disruption.” She called climate change “the greatest economic challenge of the 21st century.”

Ms. Lagarde concluded with a call for a new kind of economic growth. “So we need growth, but we also need green growth that respects environmental sustainability. Good ecology is good economics. This is one reason why getting carbon pricing right and removing fossil fuel subsidies are so important.”

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 3 months ago

Horray for those who demand green and renewable energy. WOOT a place for our children blessed with 50K debt the moment they hit the ground to live. I would think that if you really cared about the future, then that would include not blessing our children with all that debt. What good is a clean place to live when you have nothing.

deec 5 years, 3 months ago

What good is money when there is no water, food or breathable air?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 3 months ago

What good is a place to breath, eat and drink with lots of money? Try again.

deec 5 years, 3 months ago

Without food, air or water, you die, regardless of how much wealth you have. You can't eat gold.

chootspa 5 years, 3 months ago

Even if you're a climate change denier, we'll crash the economy and soar our debt a lot faster when the rest of the world uses renewable energy and our source of fuel runs out. You think our cars will run when there's no oil? We're closer to that point than you think. What we need is some good old American innovation. We won't get there if we're too busy coddling the lazy fossil fuel industry, who, btw, get tax cuts and government handouts that increase our debt.

KevinORourkeAWEA 5 years, 3 months ago

Adding wind power due to Kansas' renewable energy standard has resulted in many tangible benefits for the state. Most notably, job growth, economic development, and tax base.

In 2011, up to 3,000 Kansas jobs were supported by the wind industry, and local landowners benefited from $3.8 million in land lease payments. Also, $3.4 million in tax base was added to rural communities. That tax base is critical in supporting local infrastructure projects such as road, schools, and emergency services.

Studies from across the country have shown that added wind power can be beneficial to the consumer by lowering costs. In fact, a May 2012 report from Synapse Energy Economics which found that adding more wind power in the Midwest could save the average homeowner $63 to $200 a year.

Renewable energy standards have helped drive the installation of wind power, and it makes little sense to roll them back at a time when they are contributing to growing local economies.

William Weissbeck 5 years, 3 months ago

It is amazing how these elected conservative idiots keep bringing up issues and making statements that only highlight their ignorance and/or the fact that their souls are owned by corporate interests. Just so it is also made clear, there is no such thing as energy independence based of fossil fuels. BP, Exxon, etc are global companies. They are not subject to laws restricting where they choose to sell the products they get from the ground. Whatever they drill in Kansas, Texas or North Dakota, they can sell to China or the highest bidder.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

No matter what oil and petro chemicals pollute....

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 3 months ago

Maybe the legislature could pass a bill requiring people to drive horse drawn wagons instead of cars...

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