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

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

Happy New Year everyone!

We all know that the PTC extension was passed in the “Fiscal Cliff Package” just before the deadline. We all should express thanks to the two Kansas Senators Roberts and Moran who voted for the extension of the PTC.  Please also thank Senator Moran for his continuing leadership on tax code parity for renewable energy. It is refreshing to see the Senator take a leading stance on the this issue.

Disappointingly, not ONE of the House representatives for the state of Kansas voted in favor of the PTC. NOT ONE. Please let your representatives know how you feel about their choice.

A thanks also needs to go to Kansas Governor Brownback. He vigorously supported the extension of the PTC. While he had no vote on the legislation, he did as much as he could, working with Governors from across the country to support the PTC. The Governor released a statement recently about the PTC win. Read more from the Topeka Capital Journal.

While the flurry of activity across not only the Heartland but the entire country has been tremendous in the first week of the PTC extension, AWEA has not been able to provide numbers on the immediate impacts of the extension. AWEA has been able to pass along information as new projects are started and projects put on hold are back on line. Here is a round up of PTC impacts in this first week of extension:

  • Minnesota’s largest wind project, Pleasant Valley wind farm, is shovel ready. Needs to touch up paper work since it has been on hold for several months waiting for the PTC outcome, according to the Austin Daily Herald.
  •  A 100-200 megawatt project in North Dakota is moving forward and could begin construction by mid-year according to the Prairie Business Journal.
  • In Ohio, 2 projects may not break ground in 2013, but the PTC extension has given them new life, read more in the Mansfield News.
  • Texas reports wind farm activity moving forward in the Panhandle region – including transmission projects. The Amarillo Globe-News tells us more.

While not directly related to the PTC extension, Nebraska is seeing forward movement on the transmission front with open houses scheduled. The transmission line project, referred to as the R-Project, is being built to enhance transmission system reliability, relieve congestion from existing lines within the transmission system, and provide opportunities for additional renewable energy generation. Learn more about these and other transmission projects at the Center for Rural Affairs and read more about the open houses at the Norfolk Daily News.

Well, that makes for a busy first week of January. Hope yours was a good one too!

posted by Kate Van Cantfort, CEP Program Director

This has been a busy week for CEP and for PTC supporters.

Thank you to the over 600 people who have signed the letter in support of the PTC. We are still reaching for our goal of 5,000 Kansans to have signed. Please do what you can to spread the word!

This week Governor Brownback’s office released a declaration that October is Energy Awareness Month. His office encourages citizens to be aware of energy consumption nd weatherization. CEP appreciates the support Governor Brownback has shown for Kansas as the renewable energy state, the PTC and energy efficiency.

The Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce, where CEP is headquartered and home to the recent Siemen;s layoffs, announced support for a 5 year extension of the PTC. We thank the Chamber for that support of the PTC extension!

This morning the Hutchinson News printed a strong editorial from Dave Kerr. We have included the entier text below.

Pompeo’s Wind Credit Obsession is Embarrassing

Guest column

By Dave Kerr 
U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo’s protestations in defense of his anti-wind-energy efforts might possibly make some theoretical sense, if they were not so riddled with political and practical inconsistencies that it is surprising he’s willing to hang them out for public view – and ridicule.
The first sleight of hand the congressman tries to slip by us is that the wind Production Tax Credit is the same kind of government giveaway as the completely indefensible program that wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on the Solyndra company. The PTC is actually an income tax credit available to utilities and others based on the kilowatt hours of electricity generated using the wind as the “fuel” to produce it. Wind equipment manufacturing companies like Siemens receive no subsidies or loan guarantees or any direct incentives from the federal government. They do benefit when utilities decide to buy and install wind generation equipment, which is clearly influenced to some extent by the PTC.

So, Congressman, please stop throwing Solyndra at us as justification for your position. There is better justification for your saying you are advocating for a tax increase on utilities, which, because they are regulated, will pass on to consumers. While that may be a tortured argument, it’s better than your phony Solyndra argument, which you’ve used in everything you’ve written from the Wall Street Journal to The Hutchinson News.

 

The PTC has actually helped the development of emissions-free electrical power for millions of homes, and the cost of that electricity is guaranteed fixed for 20 years. That’s a guarantee the producers of other fuels for electrical generation would be reluctant to make.

As the multibillion-dollar, 75,000-job wind industry has grown, manufacturers have invested heavily in innovation and technology. Even without the PTC, wind-generated electricity is now cost-competitive with $4-$5 (per mcf) natural gas. While natural gas has been as high as $12 within the last decade, new technology and aggressive drilling currently have it down around $3, and last summer industrial customers were buying it for less than $2. So, at the moment, wind is more expensive.

Congressman Pompeo sat a couple of tables away from me at the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association (KIOGA) annual meeting luncheon a month ago and heard Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Oil and an adviser to Gov. Mitt Romney, say we would lose 30 to 35 percent of our domestic drilling program if their two big tax breaks, the Intangible Drilling Cost and the Percentage Depletion Allowance, were to be taken away. The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation lists these deductions on the same table of energy incentives as the wind Production Tax Credit. Combined, they are worth nearly $2 billion per year versus the $1 billion or so for the PTC. The conservative CATO Institute appears to agree with the congressional analysis.

So, when the congressman piously says he doesn’t want the government to “pick energy winners and losers,” he points to a couple of dinky tax credits for oil and gas that he wants to eliminate along with the wind PTC. He ignores the existence of the Intangible Drilling and Percentage Depletion Allowance. Either his aim is bad or he is playing Clintonesque games of semantics with us. Maybe his aim and his definitions would improve if he were not protecting his status as No. 2 in the entire 435-member U.S. Congress in oil and gas campaign contributions.

Let’s sum it up: Congressman Pompeo claims to want all energy sources to compete on their own with no tax incentives. But he ignores a couple of 90-year-old tax incentives for oil and gas that allow them to drill 35 percent more wells, which creates a glut in natural gas that drives down the price to the lowest levels in a decade. Then he goes on a crusade to do away with the tax incentive for wind generation that has to compete with these very low natural gas prices. The Joint House-Senate Tax Committee lists the oil and gas incentives as costing about $2 billion a year versus the wind incentive’s cost of $1 billion.

Perhaps surprisingly, I agree with the congressman that we should keep the Intangible Drilling Cost and Percentage Depletion Allowance tax incentives for the oil and gas industry. For national security and job creation, domestic sourcing of energy is far better than buying it from far-off lands. Spending vast amounts of our wealth to buy the product from countries that dislike us, to fight wars to maintain our access and for armadas to protect the shipping lanes to bring it to our shores, makes no sense for the future of our country.

Congressman Pompeo should support the wind Production Tax Credit for the same reasons and many more. In a nation running a $1.2 trillion annual deficit, there are endless more lucrative targets for the congressman’s budget efforts. His current obsession with the wind credit in a state that is second only to Texas in potential for harvesting wind energy is an embarrassment.

It’s also bad for the 250 families affected by the layoffs at Siemens, for the merchants of our city, and for the 750 people who would have filled the wind-related jobs that were announced or on the verge of being announced in Newton and Hutchinson.

Dave Kerr is a former president of the Hutchinson / Reno County Chamber of Commerce and a former state senator whose service included a term as Kansas Senate president.

Please remember to sign and share this letter to Representatives Pompeo, Huelskamp, Jenkins and Yoder.

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

In less than a week, we’ve collected over 500 signatures in support of the production tax credit for wind energy.

CEP, the Wind Coalition, Kansas Interfaith Power and Light and the Kansas Natural Resources Council are asking Kansans to sign a letter of support for the Production Tax Credit. Sign and share the letter on Facebook here.

You can read and sign the letter below:

We will only reach our goal of 5,000 signatures by October 7th with your help.

Dorothy Barnett, executive director, Climate + Energy Project

The delay in extending the PTC is being felt by American workers and is making the news across the nation. Kansas and Iowa are the most recent states to announce major layoffs due to the uncertain future of the Production Tax Credit (PTC). While Congress is in recess for members to campaign, one organization, the Blue-Green Alliance is taking laid off workers on a multi-state bus tour. Read more about the tour here.

CEP’s executive director, Dorothy Barnett, is taking part in the Kansas Energy Conference in Manhattan. Make sure to check out our twitter feed to keep up on all that is happening at the conference.

Along with the Wind Coalition and KS Interfaith Power and Light, CEP has written a letter to Congressional Representatives Huelskamp, Pompeo, Jenkins and Yoder to encourage them to join other KS political leaders in supporting the PTC and putting the Siemens’ workers back to work. We aim to get 2,000 5,000 Kansans to sign the letter with us.  We will be posting the letter and a way to sign electronically as soon as possible on our website.

You can sign the petition here if you are a Facebook user.

CEP also had a recent letter to editor published in the Hutchinson News.

Please remember to reach out to your members of Congress, no matter what state you live in, and ask them to support the extension of the PTC.

written by Kate VanCantfort, Director of Communications & Special Projects

Recently, Siemens Wind Energy announced a 30% workforce reduction in their North American staff.  This unfortunate news for Kansans comes on the heels of more than a dozen such layoffs impacting over 3000 workers in at least 14 states over the past several months. We are sorry for the Kansas, Iowa and Florida employees who are paying the price for unstable energy policies in Washington.

Inconsistent tax policy is a major factor in these job losses. The American Wind Energy Association repeatedly warned that delaying the extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) would cost American’s 10,000 jobs by the end of this year plus 27,000 jobs by the end of the first quarter in 2013.

While Congress is split about extending this incentive, a recent poll from George Mason University says 92% of Americans think that developing sources of clean energy should be a very high (31%), high (38%) or medium (23%) priority for the President and Congress.

Although 92% of Democrats and Independents and 84% of Republicans think clean energy should be a priority, confusion abounds as to how and why Congress should incentivize renewable energy.

Wind energy could cost-effectively provide 20% of our electricity by the year 2030, as reported by the Department of Energy’s 20% Wind report.  Today, wind accounts for less than 4%.

Thanks to advancing technology the cost of wind production is approaching the cost of energy from traditional sources, despite the added cost of transmitting power from wind rich rural areas to population hubs.  Even with these advances, volatility in the market persists, causing wind projects and thus turbine manufacturers to be unstable.

Consistent competitiveness with traditional fuel prices is critical to establish a stable market for renewable energy. This appears to be the government’s main premise for providing tax incentives to the industry.

Even though they have substantially lower maintenance cost and no fuel cost, wind power requires a larger up-front investment as compared to traditional electricity generators.   The high initial investment can make wind energy unattractive to investors.  A tax incentive is necessary to encourage the development of a wind-generated electricity market. [1]

There is no question wind energy has been good for Kansas. By the end of this year Kansas will have 17 wind farms generating more than 3000 MW of wind energy. Several billion dollars in wind generation projects have been invested in Kansas in recent years and hundreds of new jobs have been added.

In response to the Siemens announcement, Governor Sam Brownback shared his support for the Production Tax Credit noting a 2012 $3 billion investment in new wind farms. Senator Jerry Moran also supported wind energy incentives adding “the wind-energy industry has stopped making long-term investments in their businesses because of Washington’s unwillingness to craft a comprehensive domestic energy policy”.

While lawmakers representing Kansas can do little about low natural gas prices and the sluggish economy (two additional reasons Siemens has sighted for their reduction in staff), they can and should extend the Production Tax Credit for at least two years. 

If 92% of us truly think clean energy should be a priority (for jobs, prosperity and energy security) the time to act is now.  Let Congress know how you feel about extending the Production Tax Credit with your phone calls, emails and letters.

Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director

CEP Board of Directors:

Nancy Jackson

James Haines

Cathy Bennett

Ashok Gupta

Ben Champion

Visit our facebook page at facebook.com/CEPHeartland or follow us on Twitter @CEPHeartland to keep up to date on how you can take action to support renewable energy.


[1] From the Houston Business and Tax Law Journal (Vol. XI)