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 “To my knowledge, not one of the 30 other states with an RPS has negatively modified or repealed that important policy.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

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

We love and support wind energy – and no wonder.

In Kansas alone, the wind industry has created a bunch of good paying jobs (including nearly 400 at Siemens and Draka Cableteq in Hutchinson), at the end of 2010 and with only 1,274 MW of wind installed, counties hosting wind farms were getting approximately $3.7 million dollars annually in PILOT payments (payment in lieu of taxes) and landowners were receiving approximately $3.8 million dollars annually in land lease payments.

By the end of this year, Kansas will have over 3,000 MW of wind installed – so imagine the jobs, PILOT and land lease payments we can expect in 2012 – that’s the GOOD news!

And now the BAD news – without an immediate extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) Kansas can forget about becoming the “renewables state” as Governor Brownback suggested in his 2011 State of the State address. History shows each time the PTC is allowed to expire, production plunges and investment in manufacturing slows.  Factories in Colorado could have huge layoffs and one plant in Arkansas won’t even get built because of this delay.

Senator Moran continues to be a champion for wind energy and extension of the PTC – tell him thank you when you see him.

Although the rest of our Kansas delegation says they support wind and jobs for Kansas, actions speak louder than words (maybe they need to know their constituents support wind energy).

Our own First District Congressman Huelskamp has joined with Representative Mike Pompeo to get rid of the PTC.  If you ask them, they’ll say, we want to get rid of all subsidies, however, if you take a deep dive into the tax code and the bill they’re promoting, you’ll see there isn’t parity between renewables and traditional sources of energy. Former Kansas President of the Senate Dave Kerr, does a great job of  explaining why Huelskamp’s opposition to wind is clear.

Even the Kansas legislature sent a letter to Congressman Huelskamp, encouraging him to support Kansas and the wind industry.

Whatever your reasons for supporting clean energy – for energy security, for economic development, for rural revitalization, or for emission reductions – start talking to your friends, neighbors and elected officials about the production tax credit.

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

From EnergyBiz:

Filing extensive comments today with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) called both the Draft Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines and the Draft Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance unworkable and made dozens of detailed recommendations to improve the documents. More than 12,000 individuals also submitted comments echoing the concerns raised by AWEA on both documents.

“The wind energy industry has a long and proud history of environmental responsibility. In fact, the wind energy industry has voluntarily agreed to hold itself to a higher standard for wildlife study, mitigation and protection than any other industry in the country,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “Unfortunately, the USFWS proposals in their current form do not represent a reasonable balance between the important and complementary goals of wildlife conservation and deployment of non-polluting energy.”

The Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition also submitted comments today. The letter from the Coalition chairman, Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, and the vice chair, Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa, states, “We support the responsible development of the nation’s energy resources, but we are concerned that the FWS’s proposed guidelines on land-based wind energy development and eagle conservation guidance, if adopted, would put at risk many wind energy projects without achieving benefits beyond those available from previously developed guidelines.”

Draft Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines

With respect to the Draft Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines, besides the individual comments submitted by AWEA, joint comments were submitted by AWEA along with key conservation organizations, including Defenders of Wildlife, Audubon, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Mass Audubon.

The thrust of the AWEA comments and the joint industry and NGO comments is a recommendation to return to the substance of the consensus recommendations of the USFWS Wind Turbine Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee (FAC). The FAC was created by the Department of the Interior and composed of wildlife conservation organizations, state wildlife agencies, and wind industry representatives, among others. The FAC worked for over two-and-a-half years and submitted the resulting consensus recommendations to Secretary Salazar in March 2010. Unfortunately, the USFWS draft guidelines deviate significantly from the consensus FAC recommendations in key areas including the role of USFWS in the review process, the scope and duration of pre-and post-construction studies, and the scope of covered species and covered impacts, among others. In the draft guidelines, the USFWS does not offer any explanation for the changes nor does the agency explain what additional conservation benefit would be provided.

AWEA also raised questions about some of the science on which USFWS is relying and about the negative impact several of the recommendations would have on the ability to build wind energy projects, particularly given that the recommendations would come at a very high cost yet not yield any additional conservation benefit.

Draft Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance

AWEA also submitted recommendations on the Draft Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance. This guidance document builds on the 2009 Eagle Permit rule finalized by USFWS in order to provide “take” permits giving legal liability protection for projects that commit to efforts to avoid, minimize and mitigate for their impacts.

AWEA urged that USFWS re-open the 2009 permit rule to make the permit more closely mirror those available under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Currently, the eagle permit differs in key ways including being available for only five years with no guarantee of renewal; under the ESA, the permit is available for the life of the project. Additionally, USFWS can impose additional conditions on a project in the future, whereas the ESA provides “no surprise” assurances, meaning a recipient of a permit will not be asked in the future to commit to additional measures.

AWEA also commented on the draft guidance document and raised concerns and made recommendations on questionable legal interpretations that have resulted in an overly-stringent program, questionable science, and the duration and scope of studies, among other issues.

Conclusion

According to a survey of AWEA members, the USFWS draft policies jeopardize more than 34,000 megawatts of wind power projects, over 27,500 jobs, $103 million in potential landowner revenue, and $68 billion in investment.

“The USFWS missed an opportunity to capitalize on the consensus work of states, NGOs and the industry,” said John Anderson, AWEA’s director of siting policy. “AWEA strongly urges USFWS to reconsider the draft documents as they currently stand and work closely with stakeholders to achieve a more workable outcome for both wildlife and wind energy.”

Posted by Dorothy Barnett, Climate and Energy Project

By Karen Dillon From The Kansas City Star

Newly proposed mercury regulations on coal-fired power plants should have a major effect on health, Kansas City-area officials said Tuesday.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s rule would prevent dozens of deaths in the area as well as an estimated 780 heart attacks, 800 asthma attacks and 5,600 sick days, said Rex Archer, director of Kansas City’s Health Department.

“It’s about time we got these standards in place,” Archer said during a news conference at the Health Department. Karl Brooks, EPA Region 7 administrator, said 8,000 pounds of mercury were emitted annually by power plants burning coal in this area. He noted that Congress “promised this to the American people in 1990” but acknowledged it had been politically difficult to implement over the years.

The rule will not only limit mercury but also lead, arsenic and acid gas pollution.

More than half of power plants in other states meet the standard because of state laws, Brooks said. But the six in the Kansas City area do not.

A court-ordered deadline requires EPA to make the rule official by November. Coal plant owners will have up to four years to implement the pollution removal technology.

All water bodies in Missouri and many in Kansas are contaminated with mercury.

Statewide advisories indicate most fish are contaminated with mercury and set limits on the number of fish that children under age 13 and women of child-bearing age should eat.

Brooks said the regulation was expected to generate tens of thousands of jobs nationally and cost billions of dollars. But the cost is cheaper than what is being spent on people sickened by mercury, the officials said.

Bill Eastman, head of environmental safety at Westar Energy Inc., said company plants were using scrubbers that reduce mercury. But once the new regulations are implemented, Westar will have to put on more pollution-controlling equipment.

In a statement, Kansas City Power & Light said it planned to make several improvements to its plants in order to meet some provisions of the rule ahead of schedule.

Posted by Kate Gonzalez www.climateandenergy.org/