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Archive for Wednesday, March 26, 2014

House rejects measure to repeal state renewable energy standards

March 26, 2014, 12:42 p.m. Updated March 26, 2014, 3:38 p.m.

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— TOPEKA — The Kansas House bucked powerful business interests Wednesday and killed a bill to repeal state renewable energy standards just one day after the Senate had approved the measure.

A coalition of Democrats and Republicans, many from western Kansas, voted against the Senate-approved bill. A motion to concur with the bill failed, 44-77.

The repeal legislation was sought by the Kansas Chamber, Americans for Prosperity and other influential conservative groups that said the standards were anti-free market and resulted in higher electric bills.

Jeff Glendenning, director of the Kansas chapter of AFP, vowed that the fight wasn’t over.

“We will be talking to a lot of the House members over the next week,” Glendening said. “A lot of them have campaigned over the past several years and told their constituents they oppose mandates and support free markets. This is a perfect opportunity to prove it.”

But supporters of the renewable standards say they have boosted the economy by bringing wind development, jobs and investment to struggling rural areas. They pointed to a state study that said the additional wind capacity had an insignificant impact on electric rates.

State Rep. Russ Jennings, R-Lakin, said those seeking repeal were “nothing more than folks who want to exercise political power. This is about wanting to have a win for the sake of having a win without considering the potential benefit all this has.”

The bill would have repealed the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which required major utility companies to have the capacity to generate 10 percent of their energy through a renewable source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.

The Lawrence delegation in both the House and Senate voted against repealing the RPS.

On Tuesday evening, Republicans in the Senate approved the bill on a 25-15 vote.

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 get a permit for 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 yet. Supporters of the plant, however, say they believe it may be built soon.

State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, was in the House to listen to the debate Wednesday.

“I think representatives were making very good arguments and a lot of different arguments about how this made good sense for their districts,” Francisco said.

She said the issue could always be revived, but she added: “It would be hard at this point to know what would make a difference to change the minds of many of those legislators.”

AFP’s Glendening countered: “I still think a lot of them are unfamiliar with the issue. That will change over the next few days.”

Comments

Randall Uhrich 8 months ago

There's something fishy here. Apparently, there is some big money in renewable energy. Stick around to see who gets screwed.

Armen Kurdian 8 months ago

There's big money in every corporate subsidy that gets passed. Republican / Democrat doesn't matter.

Cille King 8 months ago

There aren't tax dollars attached to the RPS.

Michael Benes 8 months ago

This has nothing to do with subsidies.

Phillip Chappuie 8 months ago

Great day in the morning. The Kansas House sweeps in for the win. Good job.

James Howlette 8 months ago

Since when did the House become more reasonable than the senate?

Peebles Squire 8 months ago

The Kansas House made a good decision today.

Kansans see the value in reliable, affordable wind energy in their state. It’s no wonder you’re able to export this innovative energy source to those nearby who need it.

By extending the Production Tax Credit and making sure the RPS stays in place, we can ensure that Kansas will continue to reap the benefits of new wind projects, promoting economic development and diversifying the tax base, especially in rural areas.

Kansas is already an important hub for American wind energy, and with up to 72 percent of a wind turbine’s value now made-in-the-USA, we can safely say the Sunflower State is helping to build a new manufacturing sector, producing a homegrown energy source for the whole country.

Wind power is increasingly cost-competitive, and with prices that have declined 43 percent in four years, consumers are seeing just how affordable wind energy can be. In Kansas, wind power has helped utilities provide some of the most affordable electricity in the country.

Wind energy is good for ratepayers, clean, reliable, and – most importantly – is keeping the lights on for Kansans and Americans across the country. The RPS is a massive success story, one that should keep on going.

Peebles Squire AWEA

Phillip Chappuie 8 months ago

The last sentence still bothers me a bit. Why on earth would anybody build a coal fired generating station in far southwestern Kansas, which is by the way, a desert. With the depletion of the aquifer at record rates and just getting lower and lower, when is enough going to be enough? I would imagine that proposed Holcomb boondoggle would require vast amounts of water. Makes no sense. Plus the door has already been opened to vastly expand the factory hog farms out in that area. How much water does it take to run 400K hogs in a day?

Richard Heckler 8 months ago

This is why Brownback is trying to steal water from the Missouri River…… yes a pipeline to Western Kansas = foolish.

Carolyn Simpson 8 months ago

The coal fired generating station serves two purposes. 1 provide electricity when the wind is not blowing or is blowing too hard. 2. Exist as the power plant to receive the power from the wind farms, which is then transmitted where needed. I just moved to far western Kansas from Lawrence. Several wind farms were built in the last few years. Every day I see multiple loads of wind turbine blades being driven through town on their way to new wind farms. It is a very big thriving industry for Kansas.

Richard Heckler 8 months ago

"The repeal legislation was sought by the Kansas Chamber, Americans for Prosperity and other influential conservative groups that said the standards were anti-free market and resulted in higher electric bills."

Kansas Chamber, Americans for Prosperity = two of the largest special interest money laundering organizations on planet earth.

Ken Lassman 8 months ago

I'm very encouraged that the House of Representatives actually represented the people of Kansas--every Kansan can breathe a little bit easier. Maybe both houses aren't owned lock stock and barrel after all! I really think the polls showing broad support for actively supporting the growth of renewables in our state had an impact on legislators, who may have realized how counter the image of pulling the rug out from under the growing renewables industry would have in our state's trying to have a pro-business image. Maybe they realize that rubber stamping ALEC written legislation isn't always in our best interests.

But it's time to thank our representatives for their independent thinking before the KS Chamber and out-of-state Americans for Prosperity get started. It might be worth pointing out that of the items Politifact covered from AFP, 0% of their claims were true or mostly true, 15% were half true, 38% were mostly false, 31% were false, and 15% were pants on fire lies.

Elizabeth Newman 8 months ago

Since when does reason and logic (making sense) get legislated? Something is wrong with this country...It's gonna give folks too much of a break from despair and fear that has been so well gaveled into law the last ten years. Now what do we do...

Steve King 8 months ago

What bothers me the most is the very last paragraph. It should bother everyone. Sort of reminds me of the old days in Kansas City when the "Machine" ran things. You didn't vote along Machine lines, you got a visit telling you the error of your ways.

Jeff Glendenning, director of the Kansas chapter of AFP, vowed that the fight wasn't over. “We will be talking to a lot of the House members over the next week,” Glendening said. “A lot of them have campaigned over the past several years and told their constituents they oppose mandates and support free markets. This is a perfect opportunity to prove it.

The last paragraph says it all:

”"AFP’s Glendening countered:" “I still think a lot of them are unfamiliar with the issue. That will change over the next few days.”

So is this a veiled threat? Glendening and the APF's goons are going to around the Capital building to strong arm OUR representatives to change their opinions? Guess they aren't our representatives after all.

Michael Benes 8 months ago

The state Senate should be ASHAMED for passing this and requiring the House to reject it....There is NOTHING remotely "free market" about about oil, gas and coal industry....this is about ensuring 100% clean, renewable energy industries and breaking dependance on foreign fossil fuel demand and supply...if you are against increasing renewable energy standards you are shill for fossil fuel companies or completely misinformed...

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