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

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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

Summary: Hearing held on HB 2127, the Governor’s energy policy. No motions, amendments, or votes, bill moves to Renewables  subcommittee chaired by Rep. Forrest Knox (not to be confused with the pollutant NOx, as he has pointed out) which next meets at 7:30 a.m. Thursday in Docking 783 before full committee meets at 9:00 a.m. Subcommittee will likely meet again on Friday morning as well but nothing specific announced yet.

  • If you would like to find your legislator and contact them about any specific piece of legislation, click here.
  • For specific bill tracking, check out KNRC.
  • For political updates on energy issues, check out gpace.org and/or kansas.sierraclub.org
  • For questions on the legislative process, call the Kansas Legislative Hotline – 1-800-432-3924, or check out the legislature’s website.

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Hearing today on the governor’s bill, HB 2127, an RPS/ net metering/ EE combo platter.

Careful readers will be thinking, right about now – exactly how many of those combo platters are actually in front of House Energy and Utilities…?

Answer: Many. We’ve gone way past combo platter, and into the land of buffet. And as a survivor of WeightWatchers, I can tell you, buffets are fraught with danger for those of us who just want to live a healthy lifestyle.

Hearing on 2127 opens

Room is not horribly overfull.

Melissa Dublin briefs the bill. Est. RPS and net metering plus EE for state buildings.

MH’s summary, re some of the differences between this bill and others – overall, this bill offers potential incentives to balance out the higher generation requirements and enforcement provisions of a strong RPS that will send the message that KS is open for serious wind business. Same with net metering – it has system caps and size limits for installations, which could help ease the pain of retail net metering for some participants.

SpecificallyRPS: 2127’s targets start earlier, but allows good faith exemptions from penalties for noncompliance, offers 1.25 MW incentive, clearly defines eligible renewables and excludes nuclear, exempts munis but not co-ops, offers a rate increase cap of 1%, and counts the RES not according to nameplate but according to “net renewable energy generation” (as do most state RPS provisions).

Net metering: 2127 does not clearly define “net metering” but it does specify residential class bidirectional meter and 1:1 retail reimbursement which is credited (not paid out by check). The 25 kW cap for residential is higher than the 10kW in HB 2043 and HB 2051. It does specific FERC interconnection standards, prohibits additional insurance requirements, sorts out liability, etc. There is also no business re zoning or restrictive covenants as with the other two net metering bills.

EE for state buildings: Uses either LEED or Green globe standards.
Rep. Sloan for Melissa – Q: re utility rate cap on costs of 1%. Does rate protection last only two years.? A: Yes. Q: And if utility chooses another generation source that protection doesn’t apply? A: Correct.

Proponents

Tom Thompson, Sierra Club
Supports bill – RPS and true metering with one meter. Also includes consideration of new technologies. This bill will increase need for new generation from fossil fuels that lead to carbon dioxide emissions and climate change. Renewables will bring jobs. We would love to see customers receive a paycheck for net metering, not just a credit, or it expiring, but we will accept this. We need to prepare our state energy policy for upcoming federal cap and trade where carbon-based energy will cost more.

Nancy Jackson, CEP

We support RPS goals – and here’s why, but I want to talk about rate impacts first. Look at EIA data on rates across US – KS has 13th lowest electric rates in nation. Ten fastest growing states in nation have higher electric rates than we do – there are many factors to economic growth, not just electricity prices. IA has lower rates than we do – and IA also has 2,000 MW of wind and was first state ever to pass RPS. MN has most aggressive RPS in nation, 30% by 2020, their rates are .18 cents higher than ours. And these states have far poorer wind resources than we do. LBNLabs suggest that rate impact is at most 1% re historical performance of renewables. Benefits of RPS – look at case study from IA in your packet, look at benefits to roads, schools, landowners, counties. Jobs – 150 long term operations and maintenance jobs, 600 short term construction jobs – and wind manufacturing jobs – 425 existing companies in Kansas today could manufacture turbine parts. Fuel – wind is a levelized cost resource, fuel costs zero and has no carbon liability. There is now carbon liability on the federal level, there is competition for fuel sources including coal, not just oil. Water – wind operations don’t compromise our water. No harmful emissions – and with advent of plug-in hybrids we could someday drive on KS wind. 20% of wind is a modest reasonable goal. To skip to EE – you all know what I think – the cheapest, most abundant fuel source we have. We also need building standards that would be statewide.

Mark Schreiber, Westar
We support RPSs on two other bills, too – this goal is similar, it just changes the start date. Net metering provision – similar but with retail, and net excess generation granted back. Impact of this – Westar currently has 30 customers on parallel generation (MH – PG is not net metering, but it is how customers currently connect to grid in KS), and not all of them send energy back to us, most of them use it to offset their own use. They generated 12,851 kilowatt hours in 2008, and we paid out $355.28. If we paid retail rate, it would be 2.5 times that much. With restrictions in 2127, net metering can be incentive for small renewables. We can accommodate net metering without significant impact to our customer base.

Paul Snider, KCPL
Supports the bill, esp RPS and net metering. This bill is a reasonable way to move forward. KCPL is committed to adding 400MW of wind by 2012 pending regulatory approval. In MO last year we supported ballot initiative for RPS. Cost cap provision is key, important piece of this bill. More could be added to make this bill better – ie, allow EE to be used to meet portion of RPS, clarify the extent of the cost recovery and cost cap mechanisms, decide what assets actually qualify (ie, don’t doublecount), clarify use of RECs, clarify provisions on hydropower, provide variance for transmission issues. This is important step forward – and we also support building code mandate for KS.

Kimberly Gencur-Svaty, Wind Coalition
Support the bill. Kansas has rich vast natural resource of wind and RPS will help state harvest that resource. Smoky Hills WInd Farm II has capacity factor – even in summer – at 38-40%. Sometimes up to 76% other times of year. Our wind is strong in Kansas. Key point – in the U.S. last week we lost 100,000 jobs. KS has huge opportunity to bring in jobs by developing wind – also, the indirect impact of bringing new $$ into economy. The states surrounding us have RPS – look at RPS states around us, here on the map. NE KS OK and AR – there is no RPS, but as of last night, NE has 22 pieces of legislation pending on renewables. OK is looking at more than 30 pieces of renewables legislation, AR has bills in hopper as well. We are in competition here for wind jobs and dollars. Economics of wind, the benefits – if KS were to achieve 7200 MW by 2030, these are the benefits – here on the chart. Smoky Hills Wind Farm for example has 32 full time employees. Also, wind power is a hedge against fluctuating fossil fuel costs.

Written testimony from Sally Howard, Trudy Aron.

Opponents

Phil Wages, KEPCo
Opposes one piece of one sentence in bill – re hydropower. 50% of KEPCo’s fuel sources do not emit greenhouse gases, and 20% of that is hydropower. We receive it as a co-op under federal legislation. Hydropower is renewable resource, without limitation, under federal law. State RPS can’t limit hydropower definition, because it is crucial to KEPCo. This must have been a drafting oversight. Delete it please.

Earl Watkins, Sunflower Electric
Opposes two provisions in bill. Support KEPCos modification on hydropower. We do not oppose RPS legislation. We suggest modifications: Utilities should only be those who generate, not retail distribution co-ops. Do not use word “capacity” when it comes to wind resource, use “capability” instead. We do not oppose RECs but be aware that they are subject to market manipulation, dangerous, look at Wall Street, they manipulate. Caution. Specifically – we need our participation in Grey County wind farm included, that must have been a drafting oversight. Utilities also need credit for energy contracted from wind farm. On parallel generation statute, why is that language stricken, we need that reference to appropriately sized installations. We won’t speak on net metering, KEC speaks for us there.

David Springe, CURB
Opposes bill. We don’t support mandates on establishing a certain level of renewable resources by certain date. We do support acquisition of renewables, but not like this. Notes – on percentages per year, it is based on peak demand, then average demand – need to standardize that language. There is also a cost cap of 1% – (David explains how this raises utility revenue, in fact. MH thinks) And IOUS will always agree to these laws because their ratepayers pay costs, not their investors. We still oppose net metering, but it won’t cost a lot of money as policy decision. And we also need to have a provision to protect low income and fixed income people.

Alan Pollom, Nature Conservancy
Opposes bill. Focused on RPS – much is commendable but there are unintended consequences here. Large scale wind energy development has negative potential impacts on wildlife and natural areas. A new nonprofit just founded – American Wind and Wildlife Institute – conservation organizations and wind developers both on it. Wind energy players recognize impacts on wildlife is important. We are trying to map contiguous 48 states to ID sensitive areas, and areas where wind development can be prioritized, that map will be available this summer. An RPS may force development into sensitive areas, create hasty decision by utilities, etc. They might try to act in good faith manner, but an RPS would interfere. And the utilities are on board now without a mandate. There is serious push to develop more transmission, probably stimulated by federal stimulus bills, will open up more wind resources. Timing critical here, this might not be time for an RPS. Our staff works with wind energy companies all over KS, we help them ID sites we all agree on. We want truly green power, not power that damages state resources.

Written testimony from Chamber, and Reno County – neutral, but Chamber’s could be proponent.

Questions?

Rep. Sloan for Marilyn Jacobs (who did not testify but was there to answer questions)  – On EE provisions (MH misses) Q: What is appropriate EE standard for determining building efficiency? A: They all have their own costs and benefits. LEED is to produce green building, ASHRAE is to save energy. Those are different goals. Q: Why isn’t ASHRAE listed here? A: (cut off)

Rep Sloan for Rep. Holmes – re net metering – Q: When sizing net metering for load, is this average load or peak load? I’m also confused at all strike-outs on parallel generation statutes.

Rep. Svaty for Allen Pollom, Nature Conservancy Q: You are not happy with the Smoky Hill wind project. What was Empire’s first project purchased in Kansas? A: Elk River. Q: Why is Empire cited as being complementary to your goals, when their wind farm is smack dab in Flint Fills? A: They made that decision to build that wind farm before they were aware of the environmental issues. Q; Empire’s second purchase is part of Horizon Wind project up at Concordia, too, right? And isn’t that on grassland. A: A mix of grass and cultivated. They did an offset project, too. Q: Did Smoky Hills ever suggest mitigation? A: Talked about it but it didn’t go anywhere. A: How does anyone get on your board? Q: Invitation. A: Is some – well, MH will summarize. Svaty is asking whether Westar rep on Nature Conservancy board slants the Nature Conservancy process – ie, does Nature Conservancy treat all wind projects equally.

Rep. Svaty for Earl Watkins, Sunflower Q: As a co-op that doesn’t have access to capital, when you select wind site, you have to look at least-cost alternative, correct? A: Yes. (MH misses)

Rep. Moxley for Earl – Q: Are there are rules and regs for wind in KS? A: There are some local zoning rules but not really other than that. Q: So in 70% of state that is unzoned, you can do whatever. A: Correct. Q: If best wind location was in Cheyenne Bottoms, would you put a wind farm there. A: No. But if you tell us we have to have wind, and KCC tells us it has to be low cost, we are in a box. If we go this route, then we would develop wind all throughout the Flint Hills. A: So if a business has no rules, you go to cheapest location. (MH missed that, actually – this is essentially a discussion about lowest cost, versus the right decision where there are other considerations like the environment, as well as money)

Rep. Myers – why are we doing this legislation, why is it necessary, and what is cost? We know answers to these questions, I am convinced. Asking both side. Earl Watkins – A: A mandate for our consumers (MH misses) we want economic development from wind in our area, but not the impact on our rates of a legislative mandate. We think we can do it though. Q: I think state should mandate production of Cessna Aircrafts to put 10,000 people back to work in Wichita.

Rep Holmes for Watkins Q how much wind do you have in your system? A: 16% among our members. Q: How much more do you need to hit 20%? A: 75 MW roughly.

Rep. Myers for Nancy Jackson –Q: Why are we doing it, is it necessary, and what about costs? Regarding wind, development is happening already. We have all the ingredients, all the incentives, why an RPS when utilities are volunteering to do it? A: There is a cost to mandates. That said, there are public policy reasons that make sense – it levelizes your costs. Q: Prove it. A: There are four components to any generation – cost of generation, cost of money, cost of fuel, cost of regulation, plus maintenance. Look at all generation – capital costs high across board for new generation. Cost of money – high right now, frequently unavailable, but often available for fuel sources without risk. Right now, carbon-based fuels have risk. Wind doesn’t. For regulation and fuel, that’s where wind helps you out. Especially since wind fuel is free and there are no GHG pollutants. Q: Are you taking into account increased transmission lines and baseload supply? A: Today we are talking about additional supply. Transmission is vital, with or without renewables. Baseload – 1:1 backup issue is not an issue right now. Wind backs down expensive gas generation. Current grid can support 20% wind penetration.

Rep. Myers for Tom Thompson Q: So why are we doing this? A: Conceptual aspects of RPS are crucial – it will attract more renewable businesses to KS. It will also decrease burning of fossil fuels, emissions of greenhouse gases, and climate change. If you don’t believe in climate change, you won’t go for my reasoning, but most people in Kansas do believe in it.

Rep. Sloan for Phil Wages Q: On hydropower, shouldn’t definition be one (MH misses). Re net metering – public perception is that you get cash value for excess generation. Under this proposal, this customer does not get any cash value.

Rep. Siewart for Nancy Jackson Q: You want to promote clean energy and renewables and get rid of carbon footprint, right? A: That would be a bonus, but that’s not my main goal. (laughter) I’m here because this is a smart business decision. Q: We have hydro available, but KEPCo will lose reneweables under this (MH misses, it gets involved) A: OK, MH misses this entirely. Nancy – I don’t know answer, I didn’t draft the bill. I am not opposed to including KEPCo’s hydro, but an RPS is intended to incent new generation usually. Q: I am not trying to pick on you – why don’t we promote hydro in this bill, too. A: That’s a great question. But this hydro is purchased from other places in country, not here in KS. We have only 4 MW of hydro in KS but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use it.

Rep. Siewart for Tom Q: You want clean fuel and energy? A: Why doesn’t Sierra push to get this hydro repaired? Q: If a new dam were built in KS, Sierra would likely oppose, because of their impact on rivers’ natural flow. That has been their position on west coast – but I don’t actually know what they would do in KS.

Rep. Proehl for Kimberly Q: We have exemption for property tax on wind generators in KS? A: Yes, ten years. Q: Holmes, no, that is lifetime. A: Sorry. Q: So how does KS get property tax income from wind? A: Actually they get Payment in Lieu of Taxes.

Rep. Talia for David Springe Q: Solar and wind require substantial up front costs but pay off later. Could this bill save money in future? A: I don’t know how to answer that question. But 20% by 2020 is an arbitrary general criteria. Why don’t we do it utility by utility, rather than politically. Q: I assume Westar knows what they are talking about and probably did studies to make sure they could do this. I think this bill is ultimately designed to save money. A; This is not a simple question.

Rep. Holmes for Nancy Q: What are average lifecycle of turbines? A: At least 20 years. But some portions of turbine have up to 30-40 year lifetimes. Many parts get changed out over time, with more efficiency components, etc. So – 20-40 years.

Rep. Neighbor for Rep. Holmes Q: I heard a report that within stimulus package, states without RPS will not be receiving energy money. A: I have not seen that. Until that bill gets into conference I’m not going to worry about that. I would just be speculating.

Rep. Holmes for Nancy – Q: You talk about 425 existing companies in Kansas who can manufacture wind parts? Are they in western KS? A: Most are in eastern and central KS. But western KS has all the wind resources.

Rep. Holmes for Alan Pollom– who left – Q: Hmmm, I wanted to aks him about transmission.

Rep. Holmes, for Mark Schreiber Q: You say bill allows for RECs, but another part of bill says KCC has discretion. MH misses. Q: Could wind built outside of state count toward RPS requirement? Could it be built in OK? A: It looks like it, so that language probably needs to be tightened and Westar would support that.

Rep. Holmes for Paul Snider Q: You want EE to be used to meet RPS requirements, how would it be measured? A: The KCC would measure and verify. We are just interested in starting discussion. Q: Would EE let company get out from under RPS? A: It depends. We want state on record as saying EE is viable. Q: Do you have any language clarifying use of RECs? A: I do not have language, but I would want RECs to be used on in between years. (MH misses) This bill does go along way to building in some flexibility.

Rep. Holmes – bring in written langiuage on each of these points for Rep. Knox.

Rep. Myers – Westar and KEPCo brought us something on costs of RPS, we should distribute it to whole committee.

Rep. Holmes – Tomorrow the budget bill might be on the floor of the House. We have hearing scheduled at that time on KDHE – might have to move it till Thursday, let conferees know. Two more bills on Thursday – compressed air, and one on power purchase agreements.

MH apologizes for typos.

— Maril Hazlett, www.climateandenergy.org

In terms of the legislative process, the coal controversy in Kansas is officially on hold. We’re hanging out waiting to see if (1) the governor vetoes the third coal bill, and if she does (2) whether there will be an override attempt at sine die on May 29.

In terms of media coverage and everyday conversations, the debate rages on. In a recent speech, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld offered his opinion that the session was actually a success in terms of economic development initiatives (Wichita Eagle). He was speaking to the Wichita Independent Business Association. Earlier this session, however, Neufeld voted against an economic development initiative for Cessna – a Wichita corporation – to punish members of the Wichita delegation for their votes against the coal plants.

Letters to the editor on energy issues. A recent series of letters in the KCStar discusses coal, Kansas, and the recent legislative session. I’ll reprint my favorite in full:

Many of our Johnson County legislators, including Rep. Pat Colloton and Sen. David Wysong, have been quoted in the media as saying that their constituents made the difference in why they voted against new coal plants in Kansas. This is the way it should be. Lobbyists and big business should not make all the laws just because they have the money and power.

Regardless of your beliefs on the need for clean energy solutions to curb climate change, we should all feel good that many of our lawmakers are doing exactly what we ask them to do: Listen to their constituents and stand up for what is right.

Everyday citizens can make a dramatic difference in their world when they educate themselves on issues and develop a dialogue with their elected leaders.

Government works for you when you work at it, too.

Kim Hanson
Leawood

Another letter in the TCJournal looks at a different side of the energy issues – renewable energy does have its own downside. The letter takes a different tone than the one above, but still raises some important points:

Preface any project or technology with the word “renewable,” and it is almost guaranteed to generate automatic public support and popularity… How renewable will bioethanol from corn be when our aquifers are exhausted, not just from growing corn where it shouldn’t be grown, but from distilling the ethanol to obtain a fraction of the energy expended in its production? How renewable will our farmland be when thousands of acres of prairie are fragmented by access roads, power lines and wind turbine foundations? How renewable will our precious rural ecology be when soil profiles are disrupted, native plant ecosystems damaged and wildlife driven off by the noise and intrusion of monstrous wind turbines?

To those of you who just stood up and hollered at your computer – “WHY DID SHE REPRINT THAT?” – well, now, deep breaths, here’s why:

CEP says it a lot, but I don’t think we can say it enough – All energy technologies have environmental impacts, and they all have benefits and burdens. And the balancing act can no longer happen offstage.

Whether you agree with all the facts as cited in the second letter, I think most of us would agree that too much of any one technology is probably not great. Not everything about renewables is great (although many of them are a lot better compared to their fossil fuel equivalents). Does that mean we throw out the baby with the bathwater?

There’s a lot of wonderful things about living in an industrialized world. There’s also a lot of it that really stinks. Your benefit today might turn out to be a burden on tomorrow.

I don’t think anyone – on any side of the various energy issues – finds that a very comfortable thought.

Back to the point that the first letter makes: Lucky us! We get to figure all this energy mess out through a representative DEMOCRACY.

Which brings me to Missouri. As a Kansan, it kind of pains me to type this next, but in the interests of fairness here it goes – nonprofit group Renew Missouri did an awesome job of getting the 170,000 signatures (from six Congressional districts) that they needed to put a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) on the ballot for voters to consider in November.

Sob! No, it’s great. Really. Missouri policymakers had repeatedly fumbled an RPS, so citizens got involved.

Which brings me to a funny story. Everywhere I go these days, people just want to talk about climate and energy. Which is cool. But they do this in very different ways. I had one gentleman sit me down, and he just wanted to know who to vote for.

Of course I can’t tell anyone that, we’re a 501(c)(3), and we’re nonpartisan. I was explaining this and he cut me off.

“Fine!” He waved his hands around. “I don’t care if they’re Democrat or Republican anyway! Just find out where they stand on net metering!”

— Maril Hazlett, www.climateandenergy.org

Ever thought of getting one of these? I have. Houston Chronicle columnist Loren Steffy just got a home energy audit (which he also videoed, you can watch it at that link). During the audit, trained and certified inspectors go over your home, find the drafts, check out your ductwork, go over your utility bills, etc., and then make recommendations for home improvements that will help you save energy.

If you are interested in getting a home energy audit, EnergyStar has some great resources. They offer a do-it-yourself version, plus recommendations for how to find a good inspector. Also check with your utility – some offer rebates for home energy audits, and supply the inspectors.

Proposed ballot initiative for an RPS in Missouri. RPS stands for Renewable Portfolio Standard. A state RPS requires utilities to generate a certain percentage of their electricity from renewables, such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, biomass, methane capture, etc.

Renew Missouri is a nonprofit group trying to get 150,000 signatures on a petition for a state RPS would increases the state’s percentage of renewables to 15 percent by 2020 (rural electric cooperatives would be exempt) (St. Louis Post-Dispatch). Significant RPS legislation in Missouri has repeatedly crashed and burned. If the organizers get enough signatures, voters will get their say.

Wind and economic development. The Scott County Record covered the recent wind forum in Colby, with a focus on the Lt. Governor’s speech on the economic development potential of wind, and the need for proactive state policies to support different forms of wind development in the state.

— Maril Hazlett, www.climateandenergy.org