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 “To my knowledge, not one of the 30 other states with an RPS has negatively modified or repealed that important policy.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
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We’ve been fortunate this week to have film production crews in our great State from PBS and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL).  They, like many others, read the New York Times article from last year about us and saw the opportunity to tell a success story from the Heartland.  Our own Lawrence Journal World captured the story well.

I was with the crew from Berkeley Labs Monday and Tuesday, interviewing our partners at the Kansas Energy Office, Reverend Rob Baldwin with Trinity Episcopal Church in Lawrence, representatives from Westar Energy and CEP’s founder, Nancy Jackson.  We also had the pleasure of interviewing Governor Brownback.

Both production crews were in Baldwin City yesterday afternoon and evening.  The PBS crew will be heading to Pittsburg, Parsons and Chanute in Southeast Kansas today to interview community leaders and local citizens, while the LBL crew will head to Central Kansas to visit the Smokey Hills wind farm and talk to representatives from Midwest Energy, plus a visit to Hutchinson to interview community leaders about their success in clean-energy economic development.  PBS will come back to Lawrence later in the week to capture more stories about energy efficiency and attend a Final Friday’s event at Global Cafe.

I want to personally thank my colleague, Dorothy Barnett, the Take Charge! Challenge volunteers, and all the business owners and citizens that have agreed to be interviewed for these important stories.  We have much to be proud of in Kansas regarding energy efficiency and renewable energy.  To be sure, there’s more work to do, but I’m excited about the attention these media opportunities will bring.

Jeff Risley, Executive Director

If you are reading this blog, your interests already lie in the content of this documentary.   Climate change believer or skeptic this documentary can help you to answer some of those unanswered questions.  Join in the nationwide Q&A, get your voice heard!

This is an amazing event, not to be missed!

 

Tuesday, April 12th – FREE and Open to the Public

TWO Screenings: 12:30pm, Carlsen Center 211 & 7:15pm, GEB 233

Johnson County Community College, Overland Park

Q & A with Director Peter Byck, Live & In-Person

 

carbon nation is a documentary movie about climate change SOLUTIONS. Even if you doubt the severity of the impact of climate change or just don’t buy it at all, this is still a compelling and relevant film that illustrates how SOLUTIONS to climate change also address other social, economic and national security issues.

carbon nation is an optimistic, solutions-based, non-preachy, non-partisan, big tent film that shows tackling climate change boosts the economy, increases national & energy security and promotes health & a clean environment.  It provides an entertaining, informed and pragmatic primer about why it’s incredibly smart to be a part of the new, low-carbon economy: it’s good business.

carbon nation’s optimism and pragmatism are appealing across the political spectrum. While other good films have been about problems, blame and guilt, carbon nation is a film that celebrates solutions, inspiration and action.

Quotes from carbon nation characters:

“Do I think man is causing global warming? No, but that doesn’t make any difference. I want clean water and I want clean air. And that’s so simple.” THE WILD ALASKAN

“Climate change in fact is a national security issue. This is no longer the purview of Birkenstock-wearing tree huggers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” THE ARMY COLONEL

“So if you don’t give a damn about the environment, do it because you’re a greedy bastard and you just want cheap power.” THE BIOCHEMICAL ENGINEER

Visit www.carbonnationmovie.com for trailer and reviews.

Q & A will stream live from JCCC to colleges and universities across the country as part of the carbon nation on campus screenings event

Sponsored by: Student Environmental Alliance & the JCCC Center for Sustainability

Call 913-469-8500 x2883 or email sustainability@jccc.edu for more information

Posted by Kate Gonzalez www.climateandenergy.org/

Warm up to tips to conserve

November 10, 2010

By Kevin Hardy – The Hutchinson News

A 3-foot by 3-foot gaping hole in the side of your home.

That’s how Sherii Farmer describes the energy loss in a typical home.

Farmer, an account manager for Westar Energy in Wichita, is in the Efficiency Works division, which aims to save consumers’ cash on their utility bills.

Well, it’s not as much about saving you money as it is about saving the utility company money.

If customers are able to use less energy, the company won’t have to invest in another costly power plant anytime soon. As customers consume more and more electricity with each new electronic must-have, Westar approaches its capacity on electricity production and use. If the utility is forced to build a new power plant, Westar officials say, rates will increase for all customers.

“With continued demand for electricity, we have to find ways to decrease that demand like using energy-efficiency measures,” Farmer said.

Of course, costly measures like replacing an old heating and cooling system for a new energy-efficient unit, adding insulation and replacing windows can go a long way in cutting down a home’s utility costs. But Westar officials like Farmer insist there are many low-cost and no-cost changes homeowners can implement to realize real energy savings.

One of the easiest ways to save on energy costs is to start sealing up that 3-by-3-foot hole in your home. Farmer said by weather-stripping, caulking and foaming leaks, homeowners can realize up to a 30 percent savings on heating and air conditioning costs. And weatherizing a home can cost less than $25, she said.

“Heating and cooling is about 50 percent of a home’s energy costs,” Farmer said. “Anytime you can make even the smallest improvement in that area, it will help save a lot of money.”

Another easy tip for saving money is going after your home’s “phantom load.” That’s the energy wasted by appliances that are plugged in, but not turned on. It’s estimated that 10 percent of your electricity payment goes toward this waste.

DVD players, TVs, cable boxes, phone chargers and printers all use electricity even when they’re powered off. If you don’t want to unplug each appliance when you’re done with it, a powerstrip will do the job. Also, make sure fully charged devices like cell phones aren’t left on their chargers.

Switching from Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Lights will quickly save you in electricity costs. CFLs use 75 percent less electricity and will easily make up for their higher upfront costs. They last up to 15 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

Westar is currently offering a free programmable thermostat to all of its customers. The thermostats, called WattSavers, allow customers to program their heating and air conditioning settings online. Westar will install the thermostat for free. If you’re unhappy with it, they say they’ll re-install your old model.

By offsetting temperatures while you sleep or while you’re out of the house, you can save significantly on utilities. Westar estimates the WattSaver can save customers as much as 20 percent on annual heating and cooling costs.

So far, 14,000 customers have signed up for the thermostat program.

Monetary motivations

When it comes to reducing energy costs, many agree that Kansas consumers aren’t too interested in saving the environment or combating global warming.

But that doesn’t mean Kansans want to be wasteful, said Dorothy Barnett, director of energy and transmission for the Lawrence-based Climate and Energy Project.

“Kansans are kind of policy adverse,” she said. “So the kinds of changes that Kansans do in regards to energy efficiency are more about frugality or about doing the right thing. We’re not the kinds of people who waste natural resources.”

The Climate and Energy Project is a nonprofit that aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by increasing energy efficiency and encouraging the use of renewable energies. The project organizes the Take Charge Challenge, which pits Kansas communities against each other to see which can realize the greatest energy savings in a year. Barnett, of Hutchinson, said much of these challenges focus on educating residents.

That education is critical in convincing people to sign on to unfamiliar concepts like energy audits.

The Kansas Energy Office is currently offering home energy audits for $100. Those audits usually run upwards of $800 and include a complete inspection of a home’s energy efficiency.

Barnett said people like the idea of energy audits once they understand the concept – the organization quickly signed up more than 100 people on one challenge in two small communities.

“They signed up because somebody was standing there talking about it and explaining it face-to-face,” she said. “Part of it is people don’t think about it. They don’t know about it. They don’t know how to do it and they don’t know why they should do it.”

The audit program is capped at 1,500 people, but so far only about 140 have taken advantage of the audits.

Ryan Freed, energy efficiency programs manager for the office, said the rebates seem to be picking up in popularity. He said there are about 40 more audits waiting to be processed.

“We know there are a lot of auditors out there that are booked solid,” he said. “So we expect to see a marked increase in the numbers.”

The deadline to apply for a reduced-cost audit is in April, but Freed expects the program to fill before then.

If customers complete an approved audit, the energy office is also offering a $500 rebate on qualified improvements. Only 11 customers have qualified for that program so far, but Freed said that program will see more use once more audits are completed.

The energy office is also offering loans for up to $20,000 in efficiency upgrades. Customers can get a low-interest rate through a bank or local utility company. Several Kansas utility companies are offering the program, which allows customers to repay the loans on their utility bills. Westar, the largest electric company in the state, is still awaiting approval to offer the program.

Freed said these programs do more than just help people save money.

“The reality is these programs make people more comfortable in their homes,” he said. “And when you can be comfortable in your home and not see a higher cost, that’s a great thing.”

-Posted by Kate Gonzalez, http://www.climateandenergy.org/

From the Kansas City Star, By Joel Walsh

They say money talks.

And if a New York Times piece published earlier this week is to be believed, saving money also has a profound impact on Kansans when it comes to reducing energy consumption.

Leslie Kaufman’s story, which ran in Monday’s edition of The Times, essentially said that even climate change skeptics (according to Kaufman’s reporting, roughly 52 percent of those who live in the Midwest question global warming) can get behind energy conservation — simply because of the cost savings that comes with it.

Elliot Lahn, who was quoted in the story, and the city of Merriam (where he works as a planner) are testaments to how successful promoting energy conservation can be.

Between April 2009 and 2010, residents in Merriam reduced electrical consumption by roughly 5 percent, as a result of a PR push by Lahn, other city officials, businesses and Kansas City Power & Light during a six-city competition sponsored by the Lawrence-based Climate and Energy Project (CEP). According to CEP, that amounted to more than $60,000 in savings for Merriam residents.

The project’s “Take Charge Challenge” was to see which city could reduce its electrical intake the most. Merriam won for its overall reduction and was awarded 11 solar panels installed earlier this year at the Merriam Visitors Bureau.

“I think for the most part, honestly, getting people on board with energy conservation isn’t as hard as you might think it is,” Lahn said in response to the Times article.

“Obviously there’s not a consensus on global warming; people agree about it on varying levels. So what we really tried to focus on were less the environmental impacts and more on the cost savings impact.”

City staff handed out compact fluorescent light bulbs, encouraged residents to use programmable thermostats (which can be had free from KCP&L), met with Boy Scout and school groups and even dressed up as vampires (Lahn was Captain Power Strip, of course) to educate kids about vampire energy.

“We tried to show folks that you can make minor changes with little to no impact to your wallet,” said Lahn, who is also running for office in Kansas’ 14th House District.

The Climate and Energy Project’s competition that launched in Merriam — as well as Salina, Wellington, Mount Hope/Haven, Kinsley and Quinter — is being extended by the Kansas Energy Office, using federal stimulus dollars in 16 cities to promote energy efficiency.

CEP Director of Energy and Transmission Dorothy Barnett said Thursday that the project is working to finalize which 16 communities will be involved and is in the process of hiring regional coordinators. Four cities that reduce consumption the most will receive $100,000 in stimulus money for community lighting upgrades, Barnett said.

-Posted by Kate Gonzalez, http://www.climateandenergy.org/

Wellington resident Vicki Brown and Brian Lewellen from the City of Wellington

Wellington resident Vicki Brown and Brian Lewellen from the City of Wellington

The Take Charge Challenge is off to a great start! Over one year, residents in Salina, Merriam, Quinter, Kinsley, Wellington and Haven/Mount Hope are partnering with their utilities and CEP to see who can reduce their energy use by the greatest percentage.

In Wellington, I was able to join the city staff as they presented their first energy efficiency rebate to Vicki Brown for $200.

The Browns installed an energy efficient heat pump after a home energy audit showed they could save about $100 a month on their electric bill. With their $200 rebate check, a rebate from the manufacturer and the federal tax credits available, the heat pump will pay for itself in about three years.  Check out the full story from the Wellington Daily News.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) extends, expands and simplifies the federal income tax credits for homeowners who make energy efficiency home improvements.

The law extends the consumer tax benefits for another year, through 2020; triples the total available tax credits from $500 to $1500; and increased the tax credit to 30% of the cost of each qualified energy efficiency improvement. The law also removes the cap on geothermal heat pumps and solar water heaters through 2016. Get more info on these tax credits from the Alliance to Save Energy.

Energy Star-rated air source heat pumps are eligible for a 30% tax credit up to $1500. Ground source (geothermal) Energy Star rated heat pumps are eligible for a 30% tax credit with no cap.

The Kansas Power Pool’s new Energy Efficient Refund Program is available to Wellington and Haven/Mount Hope residents as a part of the Take Charge Challenge.

Rebates from $75-$200 are offered on heat pumps. Residents can also take advantage of a $30 rebate for purchasing a new Energy Star refrigerator, a $75 rebate for installing a new air conditioner with a SEER over 14 rating as well as a $75 rebate for installing a high efficiency electric water heater with energy efficiency over 0.90.

The City of Wellington offers free energy audits to all residents. This is an easy way to determine which energy efficient measures will save residents the most money and energy.

Wellington residents are saving energy, and getting paid to do it!

— Dorothy Barnett, www.climateandenergy.org

Ha! We finally did it.

CEP has launched its facebook page – check us out under The Climate and Energy Project (CEP) of the Land Institute (what a mouthful!).

Look for twitter, hopefully maybe possibly coming soon.

— Maril Hazlett, www.climateandenergy.org