Archive for Thursday, March 20, 2014

Kansas Senate committee votes to repeal renewable energy standards

March 20, 2014


— Despite pleas from a growing wind energy industry in Kansas, a Senate committee Thursday voted to repeal the state renewable energy standards.

Kansas government
Have a story idea?
Contact Journal-World reporter Peter Hancock:

State Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe, blamed the standards for increased electric costs and said it was an ill-advised government mandate that gave wind energy an advantage.

It would have been like mandating "20 percent of the people to keep a Blackberry," he said.

State Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, also voted for repeal, saying, "Let's let business do its thing."

Renewable energy advocates said repeal of the standards would hurt Kansas' ability to recruit industries that say an RPS helps provide a reliable and equitably priced energy source.

State Sen. Marci Francisco

State Sen. Marci Francisco

"I'd hate for us to lose our spot on that map," of states with renewable energy goals, said state Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence.

The bill would repeal the 2009 Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS, that required major utility companies to have the capacity to generate 10 percent of their energy through a renewable source by 2011. It also called for the companies to generate 15 percent of their energy through a renewable source by 2016 and 20 percent by 2020. Utilities have said they are on track to meet the standard.

Wind energy advocates said the RPS helped spur development of wind-related industries that have produced thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in capital investment across the state.

And they pointed to state studies that showed the RPS had almost no impact on electric rate increases.

"Passing this (repeal) would not reduce the cost of any residential customers' utility bill," Francisco said.

The bill was approved by the Senate Utilities Committee on a voice vote. Only Francisco and state Sen. Tom Hawk, D-Manhattan, asked to be recorded as 'no' votes.

Francisco also opposed a move by Committee Chairman Pat Apple, R-Louisburg, to place the Senate bill in an already approved House bill and gut the contents of the House bill. That means if the Senate approves the repeal, the House could approve the bill without having a public hearing on the measure. The committee approved the maneuver over Francisco's protests.

Repeal efforts are being led by House and Senate leaders, backed by the Kansas Chamber, Americans for Prosperity, and American Legislative Exchange Council. However, Gov. Sam Brownback, who is closely aligned with the legislative leaders and these groups, has spoken in favor of wind energy.

The RPS was the result of a controversial deal brokered in 2009 by then-Gov. Mark Parkinson.

In return for passage of the RPS, Parkinson vowed to help clear the way for Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build an 895-megawatt, coal-fired plant in western Kansas.

Sunflower got its permit from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, but that plant has not been built, and its future is in doubt.

Olson said if the RPS had been put to a vote back then by itself it wouldn't have been approved.


Larry Sturm 4 years ago

Our GOP government is against anything that is good fore the state of Kansas.

4 years ago

"State Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, also voted for repeal, saying, 'Let's let business do its thing.'"

Since when do we always just "let business do its thing"? We "let big business do its thing if that helps us get re-elected," is more honest. Even if it harms future generations and destroys the planet, because power and re-election are so much more important than anything else. Certainly more important than honesty and ethics, because the politicians that wish to repeal the RPS are blatantly dishonest about their motives. They don't care about our utility bills, they don't care about our future.

Wind energy isn't just better for the environment, but in the long run it also will be much cheaper than coal. Had our elected officials genuinely cared about the motive of decreasing energy costs so that they had actually studied the matter (highly unlikely), they would be aware of this. And we have plenty of competition from other states, which are increasingly attracting companies (and JOBS) that develop this technology. For example, a quote from an article from yesterday's (March 20) NYT:

"With new technology allowing developers to build taller machines spinning longer blades, the industry has been able to produce more power at lower cost by capturing the faster winds that blow at higher elevations. This has opened up new territories, in places like Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, where the price of power from turbines built 300 feet to 400 feet above the ground can now compete with conventional sources like coal."

"...expansion has already taken flight throughout the wind industry, transforming parts of the Midwest once shunned into wind powerhouses."

Jana Rea 4 years ago

Very sensible and market friendly. Thank you legislators!

James Howlette 4 years ago

If by "sensible" you mean "short-sighted" and by "market friendly" you mean "encouraging industry laziness while discouraging innovation," then yes, sensible and market friendly.

Ken Lassman 4 years ago

If legislators were interested in positioning Kansas economically to showcase our strengths (we have the second most attractive wind energy potential of any state in the country), to attracting and developing new businesses to our state, to creating a climate where our children and children's children can make a viable future, there are few things that they could do to send out this message more clearly than supporting a RPS. The fact that Kansas already has it on the books is no doubt a reason many businesses would consider relocating/growing/starting here.

But the actions of this Senate committee to actually remove the existing RPS not only comes across as counter-intuitive to looking ahead and creating conditions that would attract a progressive business climate. It comes across as our state having a protectionist agenda that rubber stamps the status quo fossil fuel industry, and having a legislature more interested in kowtowing to the reactionary ALEC agenda instead of supporting the will of the citizens of Kansas (who support wind energy to the tune of 91%).

Now is the time for every citizen to talk to their legislators and tell them to reject getting rid of the RPS, which has already stimulated real investment in the alternative energy potential for our state. Compare Kansas and Nebraska, which does not have a RPS, and we have grown our wind energy industry much faster, creating jobs in manufacturing, installing and maintaining the wind turbines across our state. It is not too late--let everyone know that this would send out exactly the wrong message!

Beator 4 years ago

The term renewable energy reminds me of the term anti-aging. Both terms are used to sell product to people easily swayed. Gullible's.

Case in point. The millions Al Gore has made off the environment, while initially making a killing off of oil. The Gullible's should realize that oil is part of the natural environment and greases the skids that makes the world go 'round.

Al Gore’s strategy for saving the Earth seems to be to raise enough money to be able to buy it. After selling his failing Current TV company to Al Jazeera, Gore is suddenly a super rich man. Forbes analyst Ryan Mac says, “Taking into account taxes to be paid on the deal, possible earlier debt and the fact that Gore's representatives declined to comment, Forbes conservatively estimates the former vice president's net worth to be at least $300 million.” And how can Al Jazeera afford to hand over sums of money like that? Why, it’s bankrolled by the medieval kingdom of Qatar – which, in turn, makes its money out of black gold. The next time you see Al Gore on TV telling us how evil fossil fuels are, remember this: that fat gold Rolex on his chubby little wrist was paid for by oil. But there’s another twist to this tail. Ryan Mac notes that this discovery of a rich seam of cash makes Mr Gore, “wealthier than unsuccessful Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney … Last May, Forbes estimated Romney's net worth to be around $230 million.” Thanks to petrodollars, the secular saint of liberalism is now richer than its devil.

Cille King 4 years ago

Mike Beaton, your comment adds nothing to the discussion of wind energy in Kansas.

Beator 4 years ago

Ok. Cille King, Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

James Howlette 4 years ago

How come your username no longer matches your Facebook name? Have they given up on the "real name" policy yet?

Seth Peterson 4 years ago

The term gullible reminds me of the terms GOP, Tea Party, Religious and ignorant; each of which also relate to those ignorant regarding to renewable energy, climate change and the way an economy works (especially pricing).

Case in point, religious leaders and the wealthy use religion through groups such as the GOP and Tea Party to keep people ignorant of reality and pushing an economic agenda which concentrates wealth to such leaders. The Gullible's should realize individuals like the Koch brothers use misinformation such as the effects of using oil in the current method together with the wants of an imaginary man in the sky to ensure people keep systems in place to make them money.

Fixed it for you Mike.

Michael LoBurgio 4 years ago

Kansas ALEC-Affiliated Legislator Leads Charge to Repeal

Renewable Energy Standard

Here in the Midwest we are seeing the perennial first signs of Spring: a few early buds are appearing on the magnolia trees, rivers and lakes are starting to thaw, and of course, ALEC and the Koch brothers are pushing yet another pointless and harmful attack on Kansas’s wildly successful Renewable Energy Standard.

This year’s bill, Senate Bill 433, is sponsored by the Kansas Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means, which is chaired by Ty Masterson, a known ALEC member and supporter of last year’s failed attack on renewable energy policy in Kansas.

It is difficult to understand why these attacks on job-creating, investment-spurring, clean energy policies continue to pop up every spring like weeds in a (solar) garden. After all, the policy has helped to spur over $7 billion in new investment in the state and create 13,000 jobs in an otherwise struggling economy.

So it is no wonder that 91 percent of Kansans support doing more with clean energy and more than two-thirds would support increasing the Renewable Energy Standard from its current goal of 20 percent renewables to 25 percent by 2020.

Kansas is a major renewables powerhouse—literally. It has the second best wind resource in the country with the technical potential to supply enough electricity to supply all of the state’s energy more than 90 times over. The state already produces enough electricity from wind to power more than 840,000 American households, and Kansas is just beginning to scratch the surface of what can be done with solar power. That means Kansas wind provides more than enough electricity to meet the needs of the combined populations of Kansas City, Wichita, Topeka, Omaha, Nebraska and Tulsa, OK and still have enough left over for Minneapolis!

All of that wind power in Kansas and elsewhere, along with energy efficiency, helped keep the lights on and prevented even higher price spikes for electricity and natural gas during the harsh winter this year. It has also provided a vital new source of income to Kansas farmers, in the form of nearly $16 million in royalty payments.

With all of the benefits renewable energy has already brought to Kansas, and with even more to come as solar and efficiency scale up to match the contribution wind is already making, Spring is definitely in the air in Kansas—as long as short sighted bills that only a big polluter could love don’t put a big chill on it.

Michael LoBurgio 4 years ago

Wind grows as power source in Kansas

After installing the second most new wind capacity in the United States in 2013, following on the third most in 2012, Kansas has blown past a number of states in its percentage of electricity generated from wind.

Based on its potential, however, the state has a long way to go.

Wind generation record

According to the latest data from the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, Kansas utilities received 19.4 percent of their total electrical generation from wind power in 2013.

That ranked Kansas third nationally, behind only Iowa and South Dakota, which had 27 and 26 percent, respectively. The state’s goal was 20 percent by 2020.

Other states with at least 15 percent of their generation from wind included Idaho, North Dakota and Minnesota. In all, at least 20 states had some generation from wind, with 17 matching or beating the new national average of 4 percent.

“Wind energy continues to make inroads as a major contributor to the U.S. power mix,” Elizabeth Salerno, vice president of Industry Data and Analysis for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), stated in a news release. “The electricity generated by American wind power has more than tripled since 2008, not only due to significant growth in new wind projects but also technology innovation leading to more productive wind turbines.”

Michael LoBurgio 4 years ago

New poll data shows 89% Kansans supports

renewable energy law

The Wind Coalition and the Climate and Energy Project released new poll data showing that Kansans overwhelmingly support the development of renewable energy resources in Kansas and the state’s 2009 renewable energy law.

The poll, conducted by North Star Opinion Research, shows that Kansans support increasing renewable energy development and that the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard enacted in 2009 enjoys near unanimous support statewide.

“Kansas has been a significant beneficiary of renewable energy investment with nearly $8 billion of dollars in new investment and more than 12,000 new jobs in a decade. This poll underscores the sentiment developers see in the field – Kansans want to develop renewable energy and more of it,” said Jeff Clark, Executive Director of The Wind Coalition.

The poll found that 91% of Kansas voters are strongly supportive of using renewable energy. The poll indicates that renewable energy is just as popular as it was in 2009 when Kansas first pursued renewable energy legislation. Last year, efforts to roll back the state’s renewable energy law failed in the legislature.

Greg Cooper 4 years ago

"State Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe, blamed the standards for increased electric costs and said it was an ill-advised government mandate that gave wind energy an advantage."

Two short comments: Olson (read also, the Koch Cabal) blames alternative energy sources for rising electric costs in the face of studies showing almost no corrrelation (typical "Republican" rhetoric ignoring fact and hyping the party line) and what the hell is wrong with alternative energy gaining an advantage (other than the possibility that the Koch oil barons' oil income could suffer by a small percentage)?

We will probably never be free of oil energy, until it runs out, but we can reduce our reliance on it and ensure a longer lasting oil supply by fostering alternative energy. Why is the "Republican" party against that?

Grégoire Guillaume 4 years ago

Obviously are legislators are bought and sold by those that wine and dine them. This corruption needs to stop. Doesn't it make you mad that these clowns can pull any inane stunt with impunity? You would think that with the revelations the last few weeks about the coal ash spills and dumping that somewhere a small light might have gone off in their dim noggins! Kansas needs a new progressive agenda not something out of the 1950's!

Phil Minkin 4 years ago

It is sad to see such short term thinking on the part of legislators. The idea of using alternative energy will serve us well in the future, but unfortuneately these guys, and big oil and gas that they serve, are only interested in now.

Kyle Neuer 4 years ago

Smells like oil money to me. And I bet the KS legislature works cheap, too.

Phillip Chappuie 4 years ago

If Mr. Knox thinks that we should let business do it's thing maybe he needs to go home. If legislators are not to develop and set public policy we don't need them. If he doesn't want to do his job, he can go home and read. Anything with ALEC in the same sentence has to be bad. That outfit is nothing but the corporates buying policy to increase profit. The serve nothing to the public utility. One last thought, the Sunflower power plant. How much water does an electric generating plant that size use? How much water is just laying around Holcomb Kansas? Stupid idea. Build a power plant in a desert to sell electricity to another state.

Daniel Washburn 4 years ago

"Whats the Matter with Kansas?" If the 91% of Kansans that support renewable energy VOTE with logic instead of reacting to a fear-based social soundbyte funded by the "Koch Kronies" we might have a state government run for Kansans instead of for the 1% Koch Kronies that control it now.

Bob Smith 4 years ago

In other energy news:

BTW, I'm always amazed at how many posters on this award-winning website have totally bought in to the perpetual two-minute hate directed at the Koch brothers.

Bob Smith 4 years ago

The role of ALEC in the Medieval Warm Period has never been investigated.

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

Obstructing Environmental Protection

At the bidding of its major donors like Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries, ALEC is behind state-level legislation that would hinder the ability of government to regulate and curb polluters. ALEC has previously said that carbon dioxide “is beneficial to plant and human life alike,” and promotes climate change denialism.

The group’s model legislation assails EPA emissions guidelines and greenhouse gas regulations, destabilizes regional climate initiatives, permits free-reign for energy corporations, and pushes for massive deregulation.

Unsurprisingly, ALEC’s “Energy, Environment and Agriculture” task force is led by Tom Moskitis of the American Gas Association and Martin Shultz of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, a major lobbyist firm for oil and gas companies like ConocoPhillips.32 The group receives funding from ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, Texaco, Amoco, the American Petroleum Institute, and the American Electric Power Association.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.