Articles filed under Energy Policy from Kansas
There was an air of excitement in Fox Pavilion on Wednesday evening as about 300 people gathered for a free community presentation - "The Truth about Industrial Wind Energy." The presentation, which started at 7 p.m., was produced and presented by the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition. "These people are not politicians, they're not promoters of corporate business interests, they're not even experienced public speakers," said coalition member J.P. Michaud. "They're simply citizens ... who feel this is an issue of intense public importance and one deserving of very careful consideration." A variety of concerns and research was presented by 12 residents.
TOPEKA - A U.S. Supreme Court decision on regulation of carbon emissions Monday drew concern from power companies and uncertainty from air quality regulators in Kansas. "This is an earth-shaking decision," said Steve Miller, spokesman for Sunflower Electric Cooperative, which is made up of smaller power cooperatives spread across central and western Kansas. Hays-based Sunflower and other investors are planning to build three new coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas. But Monday's court decision raises questions about the affordability of building new plants amid possible far-reaching regulatory changes.
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.
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.
Some call it a carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels, but others point to significant environmental costs. In Kansas, where winds blow strong, the push for clean energy includes not only new wind turbines but also new nuclear-power plants as part of a "carbon-free" solution to climate change. It's an idea that may be catching on. At least 11 new nuclear plants are in the design stage in nine states, including Virginia, Texas, and Florida, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute website. But that carbon-free pitch has researchers asking anew: How carbon-free is nuclear power? And how cost-effective is it in the fight to slow global warming? "Saying nuclear is carbon-free is not true," says Uwe Fritsche, a researcher at the Öko Institut in Darmstadt, Germany, who has conducted a life-cycle analysis of the plants. "It's less carbon-intensive than fossil fuel. But if you are honest, scientifically speaking, the truth is: There is no carbon-free energy. There's no free lunch."
The largest wind farm in Kansas, it features 170 giant turbines with a generating capacity of 110 megawatts. That's enough electricity to power 33,000 homes. The difficulty, Johnson said, is that potential is rarely reached. Based on figures from 2005, 32 percent of the time the wind farm produced less than 11 megawatts, which would be 10 percent of its rated output. What's more, 66 percent of the time it produced less than 55 megawatts, or 50 percent of its rated output. Surprisingly, 18 percent of the time, the farm produced virtually no energy. That's equivalent to more than one and one-fourth days each week. "You could, therefore, say that only 34 percent of the time was it at greater than 55 megawatts, or one-half of rated capacity," he said. "Overall, on the average, its output is approximately 36 megawatts, or about one-third of its rated capacity."
The Kansas House passed three bills Monday in response to Kansans’ growing demand for electricity coupled with some legislators’ emerging concern about global warming. The measures contain tax incentives for expansion of nuclear power and for landlords who add energy efficiency to rental units. A third bill aims to encourage renewable sources of electricity, particularly wind power, by offering exemptions from some site requirements on new high-voltage transmission lines that run power between the east and west sides of the state. The bills now go to the Senate for consideration.
Kansas is well on its way to becoming a national leader in ethanol production, but it’s falling behind when it comes to wind energy, Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson said Saturday. “We are the second- or third-best state for wind farms in the country, but we only have three major wind farms,” he said during an interview at the Globe. “The two obstacles that have prevented us from advancing beyond that are the lack of transmission lines and the lack of cooperative rate decisions from the Kansas Corporation Commission.” He said he thought the state can fix the problem of moving wind-generated electricity by providing incentives for utility companies to build transmission lines, and state officials could encourage the Kansas Corporation Commission to take the cost of building wind farms into account when it makes rate decisions.
TOPEKA, Kan. - Although no one currently is planning to build a nuclear plant in Kansas, state lawmakers will consider making that possibility more attractive as part of a package of energy-related issues. The bill, which is scheduled for a public hearing Tuesday, would provide incentives for building a nuclear power plant in the state. The bill "is a recognition that as we look at energy independence for the state, nuclear, renewable energy and coal all have a place," said State Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, a member of the House Energy and Utilities Committee.
Facts now demonstrate that much of the information about wind energy distributed by the wind industry and its advocates simply isn't correct. The public, media and government officials have been misled. Accepting the misinformation and adopting policies based on it isn't in the best interest of electric customers, taxpayers, or the environment – even though “wind farms” are highly profitable for organizations that enjoy the huge tax breaks and subsidies. Income for landowners who lease land for turbines is often at the expense of their neighbors........Please keep in mind that electricity generated from wind has less real value than electricity generated from reliable (“dispatchable”) generating units that can be counted on to be produce electricity when it is needed to serve customers demand. (Electricity from wind is intermittent, volatile and unreliable and most likely to be available at times when it is not needed to meet high electricity demand.) If electricity generated in Kansas from wind energy were to bear anything near its true cost (and considering transmission costs discussed below) there is no realistic basis to believe that it would be competitive with electricity from reliable generating units located near population centers.
State energy officials Tuesday urged lawmakers to adopt measures to increase wind energy and promote conservation. “We believe there are tremendous opportunities for the state,” said Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, who serves as co-chair of the Kansas Energy Council. Ken Frahm, the other co-chair, told the House Energy and Utilities Committee, that conservation alone in Kansas could erase the need for a new electric generation plant.
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.
Parkinson said his focus so far has been on developing Kansas' energy industry, particularly ethanol and wind. Not only will this again make Kansas an energy exporting state, but it will help rural Kansas. " (Ethanol) is very exciting not just as an alternative source of energy, but also for its impact on commodity prices, its impact on the value of land in rural Kansas and the great boost it has the potential to provide for rural Kansas for many years to come." On wind power, he said the state needs to help with the development of the transmission lines through western Kansas and to get the Kansas Corporation Commission to approve rates friendlier to wind farm development. By 2011 or 2012, he expects western Kansas to feel the powerful effects of wind power on the economy. And that economic development will likely overflow to Wichita, he said.
"Energy will be a very key area," she said, with emphasis placed on production of wind power and ethanol. "That will be front and center."
Topeka — A proposed $3.6 billion coal-fired electric project in western Kansas would cause health and environmental problems for generations to come, opponents of the facility said Thursday. “We don’t need these outdated, pollution-generating plants,” Sarah Dean of Jefferson County said. But executives of Sunflower Electric Power Corp. said the 2,100-megawatt project near Holcomb complied with all environmental rules and would help the economy. “We need the power and we need the economic stimulus that will result from this project in rural Kansas,” said Earl Watkins, president and chief executive officer of Sunflower Electric.
The Kansas Energy Council (KEC) has scheduled a public hearing to receive input on its energy policy recommendations. The public hearing will be held October 13, 2006 , from 9:00 a.m. to noon , in the old Supreme Court hearing room at the Capitol, Room 313-S, 300 SW 10th Avenue , Topeka . “We’ve been reminded in the past couple of years about the importance of energy in our lives and our economy. I hope all Kansans with an interest in our state’s future will review the Energy Council’s recommendations and provide the Council with feedback,” said Governor Kathleen Sebelius.
Kansas legislators offered their takes on the state’s future energy policy at a panel discussion Tuesday during the state’s renewable energy conference. Rep. Josh Svaty, D-Ellsworth, has expressed frustration in the past with the Legislature’s unwillingness to pass bills that foster community-owned wind farms. During the panel’s discussion, Svaty grinned and glanced sideways at his colleagues as he told the audience that one major change would need to occur for the state to get behind community wind. “First, we need a new Legislature.”
Republican Jim Barnett thinks hydrogen could be a major player in Kansas’ energy future. Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius says the state should try incentives for contractors to build more energy-efficient housing. The candidates in this fall’s governor’s race offer different ideas for future energy needs and generation in Kansas. But both agree on Kansas’s current situation: The status quo must change. Both say Kansas must seek to depend less on energy created outside the state. They say clean-burning energy should be a priority and agree that global warming is a concern.
TOPEKA - House Utilities Chairman Carl Holmes, R-Liberal, expects five coal-burning power plants planned for Kansas in the next few years will be the last built in the state, given federal concerns over global warming and air pollution. But Holmes doesn't see a need for a moratorium on the new plants as requested by the Sierra Club this week. "What do we gain by doing that?" he asked during a break at a state-led renewable energy conference in Topeka. "I don't see this state putting in tougher standards than what's already on at the federal level."
TOPEKA, Kan. - Sierra Club wants Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to prevent the construction of new coal-fired electric plants and appoint a commission to study their potential environmental effects. The request Tuesday from the group's Kansas chapter was a response to plans by Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build three generating plants that burn coal to produce power outside Holcomb in southwest Kansas.