Senate moves to block Clean Power Plan study

This Feb. 2, 2007 file photo shows Sunflower Electric Cooperative's coal-fired power plant in Holcomb, Kan.

? The Kansas Senate advanced a bill that blocks the Kansas Corporation Commission from spending any money to study how to comply with the new federal Clean Power Plan until the U.S. Supreme Court resolves a pending legal challenge.

Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe, added that amendment onto a bill that calls for disbanding the Kansas Electric Transmission Authority, an agency that was established to coordinate construction of new transmission lines to move wind energy to urban markets.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order staying implementation of the Clean Power Plan until a legal challenge by several states, including Kansas, is resolved.

The Clean Power Plan requires states to develop plans for reducing carbon emissions from power plants. Each state is assigned targets for reducing its emissions over the next 15 years.

Last year, lawmakers authorized KCC and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to develop a plan, but it could only be submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency if a legislative oversight committee approves.

The KCC is currently in the process of searching for a consulting firm to work on a study of what the state would be required to do. Olson said he thinks the state should not move forward on that process until the legal challenges are fully resolved.

The underlying bill calls for disbanding the Kansas Electric Transmission Authority and sweeping the balances of its funds, $251,356, into the state general fund.

It was supported in committee hearings by Americans for Prosperity, Westar Energy, Kansas City Power and Light, and Empire District Electric Co. The Kansas Sierra Club and the wind energy company WindSoHy opposed the bill.

Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, offered amendments to delay the effective date of the bill by a few months to allow for an orderly closing of the authority. She also offered an amendment to have the fund balances returned to consumers in the form of credits on utility bills. Both of those amendments failed.