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

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

Influential economic forecast of climate change underestimated the financial risks. Former World Bank economist and climate change expert Nicholas Stern stated that his 2006 report on the financial risks of climate change didn’t capture the full depth of the problem (Reuters). He had based his calculations on the IPCC reports, which have proven to be too conservative in certain respects. Quotable:

“Emissions are growing much faster than we’d thought, the absorptive capacity of the planet is less than we’d thought, the risks of greenhouse gases are potentially bigger than more cautious estimates, and the speed of climate change seems to be faster,” he told Reuters at a conference in London…. Stern said that to minimise the risks of dangerous climate change global greenhouse gas emissions should halve by mid-century. He said the United States should cut its emissions by up to 90 percent by then.

Climate and energy in Missouri. Two big pieces of news today. First, the proposed coal-fired power plant for Carroll County, MO, has officially been canceled (LJWorld). The 780 megawatt (MW) plant had already been approved, but its construction was delayed a few months ago. The utility, Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. of Springfield, stated the reasons for cancellation as increased construction costs and regulatory uncertainty.

Note to KS legislators: This utility meant regulatory uncertainty over CO2 regulation on the federal level. There’s not much states can do to resolve that until the EPA comes up with its rules on CO2. That probably will not happen until the next presidential administration.

Second important climate and energy development in Missouri – KCPL has come out in support of Renew Missouri, the petition drive to place a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) on the ballot in November (Business Wire). Quotable:

The ballot initiative — which would require obtaining more than 90,000 voter signatures on a petition by May 4, 2008 — would require that investor-owned electric utilities generate or purchase electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass and hydropower equaling at least two percent of retail sales by 2011. That requirement would increase incrementally to at least 15 percent by 2021, including at least two percent from solar energy. The initiative also protects utilities and consumers by ensuring that cost of compliance and associated rate impact is limited to 1%.

Our endorsement of the renewable energy initiative proposal underscores our continuing commitment to achieving regional sustainability by supporting investments in clean energy sources, said Michael Chesser, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Great Plains Energy. A strong renewable energy policy benefits our customers by reducing costs and stimulating the growth of the renewable energy industry locally. Policies such as this, coupled with tax credits for construction of new renewable electricity generation, benefit consumers as the sources of electricity are diversified and renewable electricity generation costs are low.

RPS legislation has previously been proposed in Missouri, but it crashed and burned in the legislature. Since then, they have leaned toward milder, voluntary proposals without meaningful enforcement mechanisms.

— Maril Hazlett, www.climateandenergy.org