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 “To my knowledge, not one of the 30 other states with an RPS has negatively modified or repealed that important policy.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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In a 2-1 decision the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down EPA’s Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). The rule, often referred to as the “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act, requires states to significantly improve air quality by reducing power plant emissions that cross state lines and contribute to ozone and fine particle pollution in other states.

Last fall, the SPP wrote a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson expressing concerns that the CSAPR would force them to “choose between” compliance with the reliability standards set forth by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and North American Electric Reliability Coordinator (NERC) or EPA’s CSAPR.

Despite their initial concern, SPP staff reported to the Strategic Planning Committee in April that the generation capacity reserve margin would remain strong through 2015 even if the proposed Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and Mercury and Air Toxic Standards rule were implemented this year.

Everyone has an opinion on the merits of this decision (194 articles in the last two hours on Google).  As a parent of a child with asthma, as a Kansan who’s energy choices impact others and as director of an organization who fully supports moving to a clean energy future – you can probably figure out which side I come down on.

Stay tuned.

Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director, CEP

Yesterday I took a call from a reporter who wanted to know if the way we talk about Climate Change in the Heartland is different now because of the drought and record breaking temperatures across the nation.

It seems a recent University of Texas at Austin poll shows a jump between March and July in the percentages of Americans – particularly among Republicans and Independents and especially in the South – who say they “think that global climate change is occurring.”

Nationally, 70 percent of poll respondents this month said they think climate change is happening, compared to 65 percent in March, while the percentage saying they don’t think it is occurring dropped from 22 to 15 percent.

My answer seemed to surprise her.

We don’t really spend a lot of time talking about climate change. WHAT – you don’t spend time talking about climate change? What kind of environmental organization are you?

Well…..

One that’s committed to encouraging energy conservation, an easy task in the Heartland where people are frugal minded (who wouldn’t want to save money on their energy bills) and faithful (we should all be good stewards of the earth).

One that focuses on the economic impact wind energy has had in this region, while advocating for clean energy policies in Kansas, throughout the Southwest Power Pool and across the United States.

One that’s less interested in debating the science of climate change and more interested in finding ways to reduce carbon emissions in real time.

We believe there is common ground to be found in the energy conversations happening in the Heartland.

Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director, Climate + Energy Project

The proposed rule will require all new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity produced. Existing plants or new power plant units that have permits and start construction within 12 months of this proposal are considered “transitional” units and will be grandfathered in.

The rule is rooted in a 2007 directive from the Supreme Court instructing the E.P.A. to decide whether carbon dioxide was a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. In late 2009, the agency declared that it was, and so had to be regulated.

Hailed by some as “nothing short of an historic step toward creating healthier, more secure communities” the first ever national industrial carbon pollution standard get’s poor marks from others including the Edison Electric Institute, representing the majority of U.S. electric utilities.

Even some environmental organizations believe the proposal is too weak because it fails to address existing power plants.

Policy makers as usual seem to be split across party lines and already have said they’ll seek to overturn the rule through legislative means.

You know where we stand – and regardless of whether you support the new rule or not, deploying substantial amounts of renewable energy and energy efficiency across the nation is both good for the environment and the economy; creating jobs, prosperity and security for America.

EPA is accepting comments on the proposal for the next 60 days, so do your homework and let them know how you feel about the Carbon Pollution Standard for new power plants.

Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director, Climate + Energy Project

@CEPheartland