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Wind energy has support; rates cause worry

... Westar's proposal [is] to add 300 megawatts of wind energy -- about enough to power 90,000 homes -- at a cost of $830 million over the next 20 years. The Kansas Corporation Commission is expected to rule by year's end on how to allow Westar to recover the cost. If approved, Westar's plan would add about $2.25 a month to the average customer's bill. ..."Something tells me there are going to be cost overruns and the capacity they're expecting won't be there and we'll get stuck with the bill,"

Wind enjoyed clear support at a public hearing in Wichita on Tuesday night when electric customers got a chance to have their say to state energy regulators.

But some who attended the hearing questioned whether a wind plan proposed by Westar Energy would stick ratepayers with excessive bills.

The issue at hand is Westar's proposal to add 300 megawatts of wind energy -- about enough to power 90,000 homes -- at a cost of $830 million over the next 20 years.

The Kansas Corporation Commission is expected to rule by year's end on how to allow Westar to recover the cost.

If approved, Westar's plan would add about $2.25 a month to the average customer's bill.

Everyone who spoke at Tuesday's hearing supported the concept of wind energy. But there were cost concerns among the approximately 30 people at the meeting.

Diana Alexander, a certified public accountant who lives in Wichita but works for the state of Oklahoma, said she's concerned the plan may lead to more volatile electric rates.

"Something tells me there are going to be cost overruns and the capacity they're expecting won't be there and we'll get stuck with the bill," she said.

Alexander said her biggest concern is that a key part of the plan calls... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Wind enjoyed clear support at a public hearing in Wichita on Tuesday night when electric customers got a chance to have their say to state energy regulators.

But some who attended the hearing questioned whether a wind plan proposed by Westar Energy would stick ratepayers with excessive bills.

The issue at hand is Westar's proposal to add 300 megawatts of wind energy -- about enough to power 90,000 homes -- at a cost of $830 million over the next 20 years.

The Kansas Corporation Commission is expected to rule by year's end on how to allow Westar to recover the cost.

If approved, Westar's plan would add about $2.25 a month to the average customer's bill.

Everyone who spoke at Tuesday's hearing supported the concept of wind energy. But there were cost concerns among the approximately 30 people at the meeting.

Diana Alexander, a certified public accountant who lives in Wichita but works for the state of Oklahoma, said she's concerned the plan may lead to more volatile electric rates.

"Something tells me there are going to be cost overruns and the capacity they're expecting won't be there and we'll get stuck with the bill," she said.

Alexander said her biggest concern is that a key part of the plan calls for using natural gas to back up wind power, which rises and falls with the weather.

"Excuse me, but the thing is, a couple of winters ago, the price of natural gas was going through the roof," Alexander said. "I don't have any problem with the wind portion of the equation, but natural gas is a recipe for disaster."

Others were unconcerned with the cost.

Susan Menking, a retired pediatrician, said she recently traveled in Germany, where wind is a common source of power and has been for decades.

"Why are we so backward in this country?" she said. "It's like stone-age people trying to figure out whether to make the wheel round or square."

She said widespread use of wind power would reduce global warming and dependence on energy imports.

"We're just sitting here on our duffs worrying about who's going to pay for it," she said. "Quit haggling over whether this is going to cost somebody $2 a month."

Menking said she supports Westar's plan and urged the commission to accept it.

"I put my full faith in Westar to be the ones to do this," she said.

Tuesday's testimony was presented to two of the three commission members -- Thomas Wright and Michael Moffet. The third commissioner, Joseph Harkin, has recused himself from the case because of his previous work on wind power as an energy adviser to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

In making their decisions, the commissioners will consider the testimony from Tuesday's hearing and a similar gathering in Topeka, along with technical testimony from more formal court-like hearings scheduled next week.

 


Source: http://www.kansas.com/news/...

NOV 28 2007
http://www.windaction.org/posts/12139-wind-energy-has-support-rates-cause-worry
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