Library filed under Energy Policy from Kansas
A House committee endorsed a bill Thursday that ties two proposed coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas to proposals for promoting wind and other renewable energy sources. Supporters used the same strategy last year in an unsuccessful effort to clear the way for the coal plants despite Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' opposition.
Two Kansas House of Representative bills being heard in the committee on energy and utilities have sparked opposition by local government officials. House bills 2043 and 2051, dealing with the regulation of wind and solar energy, would allow developers to build renewable energy plants without regard for already-established local zoning regulations.
Two key power providers backed legislation Wednesday that would require Kansas utilities to invest in wind and other renewable energy sources. Westar Energy, the state's largest investor-owned utility, and Sunflower Electric Power Corp., a Hays-based rural electric cooperative, both testified in support of the mandate.
In a unanimous vote Monday, the Hays Area Planning Commission approved a recommendation to indefinitely extend a moratorium on wind energy development within city limits. This recommendation will be presented to Hays city commissioners at a later date for final approval. Jesse Rohr, planning and development superintendent, suggested the recommendation for a moratorium extension of several months.
Wind energy is considered beneficial because of the reduced emissions of greenhouse gases, air pollutants and hazardous wastes as well as a decrease in the reliance of foreign energy. It's controversial however, because it's more than three times more expensive than traditional energy sources, such as coal, and far less reliable. ..."We believe a better option would be to send price signals to the market that encourage those renewables that can produce electricity during peak demand periods and that are built closer to the urban or load centers," [Linowes] said.
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.
Three groups of developers are taking a look at Marshall County as a possible site for a wind farm, according to Marysville Mayor Bernie Krug. Krug said the interest was only in the initial exploration phase and developers' names would not be released until they express interest in pursuing a project.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has once again challenged Kansas to utilize alternative energy sources. The voluntary initiative encourages Kansas to have 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy installed by 2015. But if some experts are right, that increased reliance on renewable energy will mean Kansas will also have higher utility bills. And because of a lack of transmission lines, there may be no place for the energy to go. ..."Challenges, such as that posed by Governor Sebelius, are symbolic, political tools, that do little more than push the building of wind turbines for the sake of building wind turbines," Linowes said.
Wind power is often portrayed as a feel-good substitute for big power plants, but it has severe limitations; its performance, obviously, is as fickle as the wind. Because of that, wind farms must still be backed up by conventional power in case the wind fails. "You can predict some changes in the wind broadly but not second-by-second," said Robert Michaels, a professor of economics at California State University, Fullerton, who has studied the issue. ...Wind energy will have a growing place in America's energy portfolio, but its niche probably won't approach the Energy Department's 20 percent prediction.
Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson said Tuesday wind production in Kansas can expand to create an export market for notoriously stiff breezes cruising across the state. "We know there is just a certain amount of wind we can integrate into our electrical system in Kansas," Parkinson said. "How do we keep the momentum going? We're probably talking about export." Wind generation capacity is spiking in Kansas through construction of large commercial farms. The state's installed capacity was 365 megawatts at the end of 2007. That total is expected to reach 1,015 megawatts at the end of 2008.
Hays Wind LLC's plans for a wind farm south and southwest of Hays will continue, and sooner than originally anticipated. A year-long moratorium required by Ellis County's zoning regulations regarding a conditional-use zoning permit was waived by county commissioners in a 2-1 vote at this morning's meeting, with Commissioner Perry Henman dissenting. Commissioner Vernon Berens and Chairman Dennis Pfannenstiel both spoke in favor of wind energy development within the county and granting the waiver to speed up the process.
As lawmakers ended the 2008 session Thursday, they rejected a standalone bill extending the tax break beyond 2009. Topeka lawmakers say the $1 million per year tax break is aimed at a wind turbine manufacturing plant interested in locating in the capital city. The investment would bring up to 950 jobs to the area. "We know other states have put up cold hard cash," Kelly said. The name of the company hasn't been disclosed. Without the extension on the tax break, it is likely the company will look elsewhere, she said. ...A month ago, House members voted overwhelmingly to pass a bundled bill authorizing expansion of a coal-fired power plant at Holcomb and extending the sunset for the tax break meant to lure a $150 million investment to Topeka. After Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the bill, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, chastised her for costing the state "billions in opportunities."
Exactly four weeks ago from Thursday, House members voted overwhelmingly to pass a bundled bill authorizing a coal-fired power plant and extending the sunset for a tax break meant to lure a $150 million investment to Topeka. When Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the bill earlier this month, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, chastised her for costing the state "billions in opportunities." On Thursday, lawmakers rejected a standalone bill solely extending the tax break. ...Topeka lawmakers say the $1 million per year tax break is aimed at a wind turbine manufacturing plant interested in locating in the capital city.
It seems politicians of every stripe have a new buzzword to abuse. Preface any project or technology with the word "renewable," and it is almost guaranteed to generate automatic public support and popularity, even though it is invariably linked to some handout for big corporate interests. Powerful lobby groups representing private interest sectors are the primary beneficiaries of these policies, rather than the public interest. ...How renewable will our farmland be when thousands of acres of prairie are fragmented by access roads, power lines and wind turbine foundations? How renewable will our precious rural ecology be when soil profiles are disrupted, native plant ecosystems damaged and wildlife driven off by the noise and intrusion of monstrous wind turbines?
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday vetoed a second bill allowing two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas and accused its supporters of being unwilling to compromise. But House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, an Ingalls Republican who strongly supported the measure, replied that the Democratic governor is preventing the state from having a comprehensive energy policy. Sebelius' action was expected and came only three days after the Legislature formally presented the bill to her. The measure was similar to one Sebelius vetoed last month. ...Supporters need two-thirds majorities in both chambers to nullify a veto. They've always had more than enough in the Senate. But the second bill passed the House, 83-41, leaving supporters one vote short.
RENEWABLE ENERGY -- For investor-owned utilities and electric cooperatives, renewable resources, such as wind, must account for 10 percent of electric generating capacity by 2012, 15 percent by 2016 and 20 percent by 2020. -- If utilities own wind farms or purchase power from wind farms, they must create programs under which customers who pay an extra charge are guaranteed to get power from those wind farms.
Most sources of energy are beyond the pale in the Democratic Party, but nothing carries quite the moral stigma of coal. The latest excommunication is under way in Kansas, of all places, and it may be a forerunner of national political trends. Governor Kathleen Sebelius calls it "a moral obligation," as though she were opposing crimes against humanity. This is a reference to coal companies guilty of nothing more than attempting to provide power to consumers. But their misfortunes include emitting carbon dioxide into the current political atmosphere, and also the presence of Ms. Sebelius, who recently invented another way of enacting her preferred global-warming policies without legislation. ...Coal provides more than half of U.S. electricity because it is cheap and abundant - and viable. Wind turbines and the rest of the boutique alternatives are none of those, a reality that Democrats are going to have to square when they actually bother to pass a climate-change bill.
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.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the coal plant bill with an anticlimactic penstroke Friday as supporters of the measure considered another route to gaining approval for the giant project in western Kansas. Sebelius said the legislation, which allows expansion of a coal-fired power plant outside Holcomb and restricts the authority of the state's top environmental regulator, would have allowed too much carbon dioxide pollution. ...Supporters of the bill said the veto put the economic and energy needs of western Kansas in jeopardy. "Not allowing clean coal technology to be part of Kansas' energy future will result in a devastating increase in the average Kansan's electric bill," said Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton.
Yet another bill on coal-fired electricity surged toward an expected showdown between a majority of legislators and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius Tuesday. On a 77-45 vote, the House sent the Senate its version of a bill to help Sunflower Electric Power Corp. of Hays obtain a permit to build two coal-burning plants next to an existing one in Finney County. ...The bill has a renewable portfolio standard requiring utilities to produce 5 percent of their energy from renewable power by 2010 and 10 percent by 2020. McKinney also said the bill opens the door for net metering for solar power in Kansas. That would allow owners of solar panels to receive credit on their utility bills for excess power generated from their panels.