CEP is sharing this call to action from a partner organization, the Kansas Rural Center. The KRC has been a state and regional leader on a wide range of issues but most certainly on sustainable agriculture and water issues. Please take a moment to read their action alert and to call Senator Moran and Representative Yoder. You can also read more about all of the issues impacted by the funding planning they are debating now.

Call Senator Moran and Rep. Yoder to Support Conservation Funding!  

 Farmers and the environment both benefit from federal conservation programs. 

Farmers count on them to conserve soil for future generations, keep water and air clean, and create habitat for wildlife – all while farming profitably. As one farmer who uses the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) put it to us: “CSP is a great program for farmers to not only be given credit for what they’re doing, but to give them the incentive to do better.”In the short-sighted budget-cutting frenzy of the last two years, Congress slashed conservation programs by over $1.5 billion! Right now,  our legislators are making decisions about next year’s agriculture budget– including conservation – and they need to hear from you! Kansas Senator Moran and Kansas Rep. Yoder serve on the appropriations committees.   

Your action today will protect crucial conservation funding that supports cleaner waterways, habitat for wildlife, and farms that are more sustainable over the long term.Can we count on you to make two brief calls today?  It takes just a moment – please call Kansas Senator Jerry Moran’s office at (202) 224-6521 and Congressman Kevin Yoder’s office at (202) 225-2865, ask to speak with their agriculture appropriations aides, and share a message like this one:

I am a constituent and a voter. (Let them know if you’re a farmer, too!) Please ask Senator Moran (or Congressman Yoder) to protect Farm Bill conservation programs from cuts. Ask him to oppose further cuts in Fiscal Year 2014, and to not limit mandatory funding for Farm Bill conservation programs. We must protect our natural resources and reward farmers for the environmental benefits they produce – please oppose any further cuts to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and other Farm Bill conservation programs.”

Stay tuned for more opportunities for action – it’s going to take all of us speaking out loud and clear for sustainable agriculture in the weeks to come.Thank you for all that you do,The Kansas Rural Center and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Grassroots TeamP.S. Looking for more details?  (Click here. )After you call, please tell us how it went by e-mailing us at ksrc@rainbowtel.net   oralerts@sustainableagriculture.net

   

posted by Kate Van Cantfort, CEP Program Director
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Wow. Willett Kempton, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Delaware, released the findings of a multiyear study last week at Washington University. After four years of collecting data, Kempton shared the details of his groundbreaking findings, which may shake up what we thought we understood about renewable energy — with big implications for the Midwest.

I have only read this information today and would really like to wrap my mind around this new information. The numbers Professor Kempton shared rock the understandings and assumptions energy professionals have held to for years.

One such finding, as reported in the St. Louis Beacon is, “Kempton found one could run 99.9 percent of a major power grid off renewables. He said previous estimates had put the magic figure closer to 20 percent without the use of large, expensive batteries. If the professor is correct, it makes variable generation and the clean alternative fuels it uses a far more viable option than once thought.”

If the findings of this report bear to be true, the face of utility planning and the growth of renewables could be an even brighter future for our region of the country with a myriad of positive impacts both economic and environmental.

posted by Kate Van Cantfort, Communications Director, Climate +Energy Project

 

 

Good Monday morning.

We had daylights savings this weekend, we had another snow, and I cannot help but feeling spring is just around the corner. With that great feeling is the urgency to get things wrapped up in the Kansas legislature – it can get a little frantic in Topeka between now and late May.

What does that mean for supporters of the Kansas wind industry? It means we have to be on our toes the next couple of weeks. Those great winds we had two weeks ago? Yep, we are starting round 2 now.

In the last week House Bill 2241 was sent to the Appropriations Committee and then was sent back to the Energy and Environment Committee, at the discretion of the House leader despite the vote on the floor which sent the bill to the Utilities and Telecom committee. I know a little political dancing and A LOT to keep up with. What does it all mean?

Two great ways to learn what all of this talk about the RPS and the wind energy means is to attend one of the CEP roundtables – one at JCCC_Energy_Roundtable and one at Cloud_Energy_Roundtable (2). These events are free to attend, lunch is provided, and it is an opportunity to hear facts about the jobs and income wind had brought to Kansas and the attempts to roll back the RPS. This is important information with real time impacts for Kansas communities.

We also ask you to reach out to your Kansas elected officials and let them know you support wind energy in Kansas. We will have more information about contacting your representative later this week.

If you are really fired up about this issue, please join us in Topeka on Thursday, March 14, 2013 for a legislative luncheon. Visit with your representatives. Come early that morning and attend the committee meeting. Contact Dorothy Barnett at barnett [at] climateandenergy.org if you want to join us or if you have questions about the meeting in Topeka.

With all the friction in Kansas about whether or not our state government if going to support wind energy, our neighboring states are moving forward. Nebraska is making sure the industry knows they are open for business.

Read a few great letters to the editor to see what other leaders are saying about the RPS in  Kansas:

Wichita Eagle – KS Representative Nile Dillmore Dist 92

Hutchinson News – Siemens Leadership

Please join us if you can for one of the upcoming events and please keep in touch with your KS representatives.

UPDATE:

The Committee hearing has been moved, for now, until March 19th.

posted by Kate Van Cantfort, CEP Director of Communications and Special Projects

You did it! And we thank you!

The legislation to roll back or eliminate the Renewable Portfolio Standard in Kansas has either been voted down or sent back to committee.  With the timing in the Kansas legislature session, this means the RPS is safe – for now. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

First let’s take a moment to thank each supporter who called from Kansas communities across the state. Your representatives heard you! Please take a minute to call or email them and thank them for their vote. See the how your Senator voted hereSB 82 Feb 28 vote (The House vote was not a recorded vote, so we can’t tell you how your official voted.)

I also want to thank the great organizations who worked tirelessly to fight this roll back: KS Interfaith Power and Light, the Wind Coalition, the Sierra ClubKansas Natural Resource Council, the Kansas Farmers Union, the Kansas Rural Center, and NRDC. Many other groups provided testimony to the House and Senate Committees including the Kansas Farm Bureau, Siemens Wind Energy, Heartland Alliance for Regional Transmission (HART), and others. The Kansas Energy Information Network (KEIN) and Polsinelli  Shughart created report on the “Economic Impacts of Kansas Wind Industry” which is a timely piece of research. Each of these efforts played a critical role in this on-going conversation.

So take a moment and appreciate democracy at work.

Okay, moment over. The Kansas legislature is not done for the session. We will need to continue to be vigilant as amendments can be made to one of many pieces of legislation still working through one or both chambers. We will be sure to keep you up to date on any actions in the State House.

In the meantime, please make sure to sign the petition in support of the RPS in Kansas. Keep up with CEP on our Facebook page – we will be moving forward with our Energy Leader Roundtables in communities around Kansas.

Here is a quick round-up of the recent articles about this effort in Kansas:

The Times Union – Associate Press article

NRDC blog

The Topeka Capitol Journal

The Wichita Eagle

Thank you to everyone for their efforts.

posted by Kate Van Cantfort, CEP Director of Communications and Special Events

Last night news broke that Siemens’ wind energy will be restaffing their American manufacturing sites. This is great news for the wind industry and for local economies  impacted by Siemens’ hiring (such as our local economy in Hutchinson, KS.)

Of particular interest in comments from the Siemens’ executives is that the renewed PTC legislation is not key to this restaffing -but that increased orders for export of wind turbines is driving the need to restaff facilities.

Here is an excerpt from the press release:

After the uncertain fate of the production tax credit (PTC) led Siemens to lay off approximately 37% of its U.S. wind energy workforce last year, the company is now in the process of restaffing its operations in Fort Madison, Iowa, and Hutchinson, Kan., company spokesperson Monika Wood confirmed to NAW.

Although the tax credit has been renewed, Siemens’ decision to hire more workers is not a direct result of the PTC extension, Wood says. In fact, the company is restaffing in order to produce wind turbine components for projects located outside the U.S.

“While the recently passed one-year PTC extension is not directly related to our need to ramp up production at this time, the PTC extension gives us confidence in the American market,” Wood tells NAW. “As projects move forward and we receive new wind turbine orders sparked by the PTC extension, we will continue to adjust our operations accordingly.”

Read the entire release here.

We are glad to see the wind industry getting back to work!

Kate Van Cantfort, Communications Director for  CEP

Last week the USDA released a new report on climate change and agriculture in the United States.

USDA report

Combining professional input and scientific research from the government, universities, non-governmental organizations, industry, and private sectors, this peer-reviewed study provides an extensive overview of the climate change effects on U.S. agricultural production, suggesting that while farmers and ranchers have a long history of successful adaptation to climate variability, the accelerating pace and intensity of projected climate change effects over the next century requires major adjustments—simply put, we need to take action to moderate those effects in the United States, and worldwide.

This report is interesting as it addresses the need for adaptation and includes a healthy dose of sustainable agriculture practices as recommendations. What will conventional ag producers in the Heartland states think of such recommendations?

We would love to hear your thoughts on this new report from the USDA.

Thanks for the $3 billion dollar investment – but you’re not welcome here any more!

That’s the message I heard Matt Riley, CEO of Infinity Wind Power give during a Kansas Senate Utilities hearing to delay the Kansas Renewable Portfolio Standard, put into effect in 2009.

“Modifying the RPS would absolutely send a strong negative signal that would likely cripple the emerging export market,” said Matt Riley, CEO at Infinity Wind Power. “To my knowledge, not one of the 30 other states with an RPS has negatively modified or repealed that important policy. Kansas would be the first to do so, and it would send a shock-wave through our industry, saying, ‘Thank you very much for the $3 billion of investment last year, but you’re not welcome here anymore.”

Matt was one of approximately 18 opponents providing written or oral testimony during the Senate hearing to roll back the RPS.

Former Kansas Senate President Dave Kerr also testified against the bill. He said he was skeptical of the Kansas Policy Institutes projections based on his experience as chairman of the board for Kansas Ethanol. “I have good reason to watch natural gas prices,” said Kerr, who headed the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce after leaving the Senate. “Natural gas prices fluctuate. When somebody gives you an estimate that says wind prices are going to be far higher than natural gas, have they really given you a realistic projection of what natural gas could be?”

Our opposition fell on deaf ears, today the Senate Utilities committee voted to pass Senate Bill 82 out of committee and on to the full Senate.

The economic impacts of the wind industry here in Kansas are indisputable.

Jobs

According to a report by energy experts Polsinelli Shughart and the Kansas Energy Information Network, the Kansas wind industry has created more than 13,000 direct and indirect jobs, most in rural Kansas.  Approximately 3,747 jobs are directly related to the construction and operation of 19 wind projects in Kansas. Based on date from the Department of Energy, and additional 9,827 jobs were created as a result of investment in Kansas wind farms.

Community Impact and Renewable Energy Investment

  • Kansas landowners receive over $13 million dollars annually from wind turbine land rents
  • Wind developers contribute over $10 million dollars annually to Kansas communities
  • Siemens – $50 million dollar investment
  • Draka – $3 million dollar investment
  • Jupiter Group – $2.4 million dollar investment
  • Tindall and New Millennium announced – $90 million dollar investment
  • Clean Line Energy Partners announced – $2 billion dollar investment enabling an additional $7 billion dollars of new wind energy development

Thirty states have mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standards and seven states have voluntary renewable energy goals. The benefits of this policy go beyond the earning revenue for local communities, generating low-cost domestic electricity and creating jobs for Kansas residents and companies.

In today’s highly competitive effort to attract new businesses, many factors come in to play. The Kansas RPS is one visible way to demonstrate the value this state places on sustainability.  The appeal of states that value renewable energy can be seen in both wind manufacturing companies like Siemens as well as those companies who value sustainability like Google and Mars. Ed McCallum, a Senior Principal of McCallum Sweeney Consulting was recently quoted in Trade and Industry Magazine.

“Having been involved in several site searches for renewable energy companies, wind in particular, the question always arises about the finalist state’s position regarding the RPS. Many times it makes the difference between winning and losing the project”.

The Kansas Renewable Portfolio Standard is a smart way to encourage renewable energy projects, spur job growth and keep Kansas businesses competitive.

Stay tuned for more from the House Energy & Environment committee. There is a hearing for House Bill 2241 on Thursday morning to roll back the 2015 threshold and get rid of 20% renewables all together.

Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director CEP