Rep. Dennis Hedke, said the pushback against renewable energy standards is about 2.9 million Kansans who are seeing higher energy rates that he says are driven largely by government mandates to use alternative energy sources. Hedke said electrical rates have increased 37 percent since 2008.
The Sierra Club and Kansas City Power & Light Co. have signed an unusual accord in which the utility agreed to offset all the greenhouse gas emissions from a new coal-fired plant by adding wind power and taking steps to conserve energy on a large scale.
The Kansas City utility, which serves half a million customers in western Missouri and eastern Kansas, also pledged to cooperate with the Sierra Club on legislative and regulatory changes that would reduce the company's overall emissions of carbon dioxide by 20 percent by the year 2020.
In return, the Sierra Club will end its campaign against the utility's 850-megawatt coal-fired plant under construction in Missouri.
An estimated 266 whoopers - the largest wild flock of endangered whooping cranes - will migrate from Wood Buffalo National Park in the Canadian Northwest Territories to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast of Texas this fall.
This migration route takes them directly through the center of the Central Flyway ...threats to the flock, including water and land development in Texas, wind farm construction in the migration corridor, and tar sands waste ponds in Canada all increased in 2008.
The one piece of business discussed by the commission came from Commissioner Keith Campbell. Mr. Campbell proposed that the commission adopt a bylaw which said that when considering board business, if a commissioner "anticipated the opportunity" to personally benefit by the action of the board in the value of $1000 or more, that commissioner should publicly state that. ...Because of the avowed interest of some current and past members of the zoning commission in securing personal contracts with corporations seeking to put wind energy conversion systems in Ellis County, some members of the public were interested in greater transparency in the operation of the zoning board.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius continues to offer a deal to allow one of two proposed coal-fired units in southwest Kansas as a way to resolve a dispute over energy legislation.
But the utility hoping to expand its power plant rejected her proposal weeks ago. And legislators who support the company remain skeptical that the governor's offer is genuine. ...The governor said she would accept construction of one unit if Sunflower committed to developing additional wind power, new conservation programs and capturing and storing carbon dioxide emissions.
"The framework of this proposal seeks to find a middle ground between all parties concerned," she said, calling her plan "reasonable and sensible" in scope.
The uncivil war ignited by a request from Iberdrola Renewable Energies to build a 200-megawatt complex near Hays exposed deep gaps in thinking about wind power.
Advocates pointed to a sustainable, free source of energy that didn't mirror a coal-fired plant's contributions to smog, acid rain, global warming and mercury poisoning. Critics responded that each $2 million turbine was an aesthetic irritant, complete with blinking night lights to warn aircraft. Property owners near the proposed site suggested land values would nose dive. ..."No one in their right mind can possibly consider this an environmentally beneficial development for a peaceful rural community," he [J.P. Michaud] said.
Wind. Coal. Biodiesel. They are all buzzwords in discussions about the future of energy in Kansas. They are each also bound to play a role in some of the energy decisions made by the 2007 Legislature.
While they bring many challenges, Rep. Carl Holmes, R-Liberal, who chairs the House Utilities and Energy Committee, says it is a rewarding process.
“This is a very challenging time in the energy field in Kansas and nationally right now, but it’s also a very exciting time,” Holmes said. “This will impact the future of energy for our kids and grandkids.”
Holmes’ words ring true for more than just himself. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius also says this is a key time for energy discussions in Kansas.
Environmentalists and ranchers on Monday praised Westar Energy's plan to invest in wind energy in Kansas.
Council Grove rancher Rose Bacon said Westar Energy acted responsibly in locating its wind farms outside the Flint Hills.
Bacon was one of eight people who spoke at a public hearing Monday at the Kansas Corporation Commission regarding Westar Energy's plans to develop wind power in Kansas. The KCC is expected to decide by year's end on rate-making principles for wind farms.
Westar plans to locate its three wind farms at Meridian Way Wind Farm in Cloud County in north-central Kansas; Flat Ridge Wind Farm in Barber County west of Wichita in south-central Kansas; and Central Plains Wind Farm in Wichita County in extreme western Kansas.
Several audience members asked questions and made comments during the forum. Tyler McNeal, Stilwell, said the search for energy should not encroach on America's shrinking tall grass prairie, including in the Flint Hills of Kansas.
"Tall grass prairie is considered one of the most important ecological systems in North America; that compares to the rain forest," McNeal said. "I'm concerned that this important, fragile ecosystem is threatened by the development, for instance, of industrial wind turbine complexes."
Energy was one of several hot issues discussed Saturday, as mayors from across northwest Kansas gathered in Hays for an annual Northwest Kansas Mayors Association summit. ...Bill Dowling, vice president of energy management and supply at Midwest Energy, also discussed the importance of multiple energy sources, and explained how diversity affects the power pool.
While wind development is good -- and on the increase -- production from this resource is not always stable, he said.
Bill Griffith, chairman of the Sierra Club in Kansas, said conservation was the least costly form of new energy and held the most realistic potential for moderating short-term natural gas and electricity prices.
TOPEKA | For years, environmentalists have asked Kansas lawmakers to require power companies to use wind as a source of energy.
Lawmakers again balked in the legislative session that ended this month, though they took some small steps toward encouraging renewable energy and energy efficiency.
But as long as the wind blows, environmental groups vow to keep trying. They say they're frustrated that lawmakers aren't doing more as energy prices go up and the public talks more and more about carbon emissions and renewable energy.
CAMBRIA, Wis. -- With empty storefronts on the main drag and corn stubble stretching for miles in the surrounding hills, this fading farm town seems like a natural stop for the ethanol express.
Not to John Mueller, though. The 54-year-old stay-at-home dad has led a dogged battle to prevent a corn mill from building an ethanol plant up the hill from the village school. Concerned about air pollution, the water supply and the mill's environmental track record, Mr. Mueller and his group, Cambrians for Thoughtful Development, have blitzed the village's 800 residents with fliers, packed public meetings and set up a sophisticated Web site.
The mill has fought back with its own publicity campaign and local corn farmers have taken to the streets in tractors to show support. Now, as the mill races to build the $70 million plant, the matter is headed to the federal courthouse in Madison, 40 miles southwest.
Enjoy the wind, while it's still free.
Next year, you'll be paying for it in your electric bill.
While wind itself doesn't cost anything, buying, installing and maintaining the equipment to turn it into megawatts of electricity is expensive.
In Kansas, the cost is likely to reach into the billions.
Starting next year and for the next few years, you can expect to pay about $2 to $2.50 more a month on your Westar Energy bill as the company brings on line the first phase of its wind expansion plan. Overall, that 300 megawatts of wind power will increase the company's rates by $55 million in 2009, its first year of operation, according to documents filed with the Kansas Corporation Commission.
The 20-year cost works out to $830 million, the documents show. ...The governor wants to increase the use of wind power to 20 percent by 2020.
Assuming future wind projects have similar costs, Kansas consumers could end up paying about $4.8 billion over the next 20 to 30 years to meet those goals. ..."I have not been against development of any kind of alternative energy," said Rep. Don Myers, R-Derby, a 15-year veteran of the House Utilities Committee.
But Myers and others say the biggest drawback of wind is that utilities using it will have to maintain conventional power plants to back it up on days when the winds are calm, usually in late summer.
Whether turbines should be in the Flint Hills - and it appears they mostly will not be - is part of the dialogue over how best to leverage the sprawling, environmentally sensitive tallgrass prairie that Brownback has called "an ecological jewel."