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 “To my knowledge, not one of the 30 other states with an RPS has negatively modified or repealed that important policy.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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Clean Line Energy received Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval to begin selling space on their Rock Island Clean Line high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission project that will run from northwest Iowa to Illinois. It will move 3500 MW of power from the best wind resources in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota to communities in Illinois and other states east.

We’re excited to see clean energy moving across the plains and can’t wait for the Grain Belt Express Clean Line through Kansas to get up and running! According to their website, this line could be ready for commercial operation in 2017.  Imagine moving 3500 MW of  renewable energy (more than we currently have installed) across the state to help power our friends to the east.

Michael Skelly, Jimmy Glotfelty and the rest of the Clean Line team have worked hard and deserve congratulations on their progress so far.

Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director, Climate + Energy Project

Kansas is poised to lead the nation in wind energy installations this year, with 1,188 MW scheduled to come online in 2012 according to U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter Market Report released today by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

Last fall, BP announced Flat Ridge II in Barber, Harper, Kingman and Sumner Counties. This $800 million wind farm is slated to be the largest in Kansas at 419 MW. At least six other wind farms have been announced for 2012 construction.

If all of the proposed wind farms come online by the end of the year, Kansas will be up over 2,400 MW of installed capacity, which should move us up into the top 10 (we’re number 14 today) for wind installations.  A good thing for our growing wind supply chain.

Unfortunately, if the Production Tax Credit isn’t extended, this will likely be the last year we’ll see this type of growth in the Kansas wind industry.

According to Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “Traditional tax incentives are working. This tremendous activity is being driven by the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) – which leveraged an average of more than $16 billion a year in private investment over the last several years and supported tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs.”

The U.S. wind industry installed just over 6,810 megawatts (MW) in 2011, 31 percent higher than 2010, and has more than 8,300 MW under construction, setting the stage for a strong 2012.

With the second best wind resource in the nation and a growing wind supply chain, Kansas has a lot to lose in the race for clean energy.

Dorothy Barnett, Climate + Energy Project Executive Director

We’ve talked about why the production tax credit matters in recent posts, here are a few more thoughts from a broad coalition of partners (including CEP):

America needs homegrown energy resources to power the nation and with our economy struggling, we’re in dire need of American jobs. Wind energy delivers in both of these areas. The wind energy industry has lowered the cost of wind power by more than 90%, has fostered economic development in all 50 states, and currently powers the equivalent of 10 million American homes. The federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) was instrumental in helping the wind industry achieve these breakthroughs. Experts say that if we keep the PTC in place, over 500,000 more jobs will be created in the next 20 years. By then, wind will generate 20 percent of America’s electricity.

The PTC is not a subsidy, but a tax incentive that helps keep electricity rates low and encourages development of proven clean energy projects. The PTC will expire in 2012 unless Congress takes action. Failure to extend the PTC will lead to thousands of job losses and put the brakes on the vast progress we’ve made as a nation toward making clean, affordable, homegrown wind energy part of the U.S. electricity portfolio.

Facing the threat of the PTC expiring, wind project developers are hesitant to plan future U.S. projects and American manufacturers have seen a marked decrease in orders. Job layoffs have already begun. The wind industry is facing the recurrence of the boom-bust cycle it saw in previous years when the PTC was allowed to expire. In the years following expiration, installations dropped by between 73 and 93 percent, resulting in significant job losses.

Unfortunately, renewable energy is under attack right here in Kansas – Representative Mike Pompeo is on a quest to stop renewable energy subsidies, “From solar to wind, from geothermal to biomass and from ethanol to hydrogen, they all must go. It is equal opportunity – not one single solitary tax credit would survive this bill”.

Funny how fossil fuel subsidies would seem to continue under Pompeo’s plan.

Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director CEP

CEP offers congratulations today to our friends from Clean Line Energy.

From Clean Line:

OKLAHOMA CORPORATION COMMISSION ORDER MARKS MAJOR MILESTONE IN PLAINS &  EASTERN CLEAN LINE’S GOAL  TO EXPORT OKLAHOMA’S CLEAN ENERGY

HOUSTON (October 28, 2011) – Plains and Eastern Clean Line Oklahoma LLC (Plains & Eastern Clean Line), an affiliate of Clean Line Energy Partners LLC (Clean Line) of Houston, Texas, is pleased to announce that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission approved Plains & Eastern Clean Line’s request to conduct business as a public utility in Oklahoma. This approval marks a major milestone in Plains & Eastern Clean Line’s efforts to connect 7,000 megawatts of clean energy generation from western Oklahoma, southwest Kansas, and the Texas Panhandle to Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Arkansas, and other southeastern markets.

Read More

You may recall, Clean Line has an application for a Limited Certificate of Public Convenience to Transact the Business of a Public Utility in the State of Kansas. Recently the KCC Staff,  Citizen’s Utility Ratepayer Board (CURB), Sunflower and Westar voiced no objection to granting the certificate. Both the Commissioners and KCC Staff seemed satisfied with the testimony and the evidence presented to support the certification.  Additionally, Chairman Mark Sievers, moved up the schedule to allow for a possible order to be issued in November.

We’re hopeful Clean Line will be as successful in Kansas as they were today in Oklahoma.

Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director

Enel Green Power commences construction of Caney River wind project in Kansas

EnergyBiz magazine:

Enel Green Power North America, Inc., an owner and operator of renewable energy plants, has started construction activities on the Caney River wind project in Elk County, Kansas.

Caney was developed by Enel Green Power North America’s development partner Trade Wind Energy and has a power purchase agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority. The new wind farm will consist of 111 Vestas wind turbines V-90 – 1.8 MW, for a total installed capacity of approximately 200 MW.

Once fully operational, the wind farm will generate 765 million kWh annually, supplying power to approximately 70,000 households, and will avoid the atmospheric emission of over 580,000 tons of CO2 a year. The overall investment in this project amounts to approximately 350 million US dollars.

Caney River Wind Project committed funding for a Native Environment Conservation Plan focused on the Tallgrass Prairie in Kansas. The money is expected to fund the purchase of conservation easements for over 18,000 acres, the restoration of 6,000 acres of Tall Grass Prairie Habitat and wind and wildlife research focused on this eco-region.

“North America has a great renewable potential and I am pleased to see further development of our wind capacity in the state of Kansas bringing clean energy production and environmentally driven conservation and research to work hand in hand.” commented Francesco Starace, CEO of Enel Green Power.

Posted by Dorothy Barnett, Climate and Energy Project

By Mary Clarkin – The Hutchinson News

A Houston-based company plans to finance a wind power transmission line to run from Ford County to south of St. Louis which could run through Reno County.

The 3,500-megawatt transmission line project, called Grain Belt Express, would cost an estimated $1.7 billion to construct, Diana Coggin, project development manager for Clean Line Energy Partners, informed Reno County commissioners Tuesday.

She pointed out the economic benefits would be even greater.

Clean Line expects new wind farms that will generate more than 4,000 MW will be built by a variety of independent wind energy developers. New wind farm investments could be worth $7 billion, and turbines for those wind farms could be equipped with nacelles produced at Siemens Wind Power in Hutchinson, Coggin noted.

Construction of the transmission facilities “will create over 4,700 full-time equivalent jobs in Kansas over a three-year construction period and over 480 permanent jobs associated with the operations and maintenance of the wind-generating facilities,” a document the company filed with the Kansas Corporation Commission stated.

Clean Line’s western converter station would be constructed near Spearville, and the eastern converter station is proposed for St. Francois County, south of St. Louis.

The high-voltage direct-current transmission line from western Kansas to eastern Missouri would stretch about 550 miles, 300 of those in Kansas. The towers could be monopole or lattice-design and would stand about 130 feet to 170 feet tall, according to the document with the KCC.

Clean Line hopes to submit a proposed route to the KCC next year, and the transmission line would go into service in 2016, according to the company.

Clean Line’s strategy is to follow the right of way for roads and railroads, to avoid fragmenting land. The towers will require about 150 feet to 200 feet of right of way, Coggin said.

The company will pay landowners for easements, Coggin said. She also pointed out that information sessions will be conducted this year, and the company has contacted environmental groups.

Clean Line does not own electric utilities in Kansas. Its investors include Ziff Brothers Investments LLC. The Ziff brothers are the sons of a late East Coast publisher.

Last week, the company applied to the KCC for “a limited certificate of public convenience and necessity to site, construct, own, operate and maintain bulk electric transmission facilities” in Kansas.

It also has submitted paperwork to the Southwest Power Pool, which regulates transmission in the region. Southwest Power Pool’s communications manager Emily Pennel said that agency and Clean Line were working together to study the project’s impact on the region’s transmission system.

The application before the KCC, if granted, would give the company condemnation authority, Coggin said in response to a question from the County Commission.

Coggin did not request any special action or funding from Reno County commissioners. Clean Line is seeking a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy and is capitalizing on a push by federal and state governments for greater use of renewable energy, the document filed with the KCC revealed.

None of the energy carried by the planned transmission line would go to Kansas customers. Instead, it would be sold to wholesale buyers, such as utilities, and furnish electricity to homes and businesses in the north-central U.S., where wind is less abundant. The transmission line will deliver approximately 15 million megawatt hours of electricity annually to that part of the country, Clean Line estimates.

Clean Line anticipates “all costs associated with the construction and operation of the Grain Belt Express” would be recovered through charges to the suppliers of electricity who contract to buy power – “not Kansas ratepayers” – Clean Line informed the KCC.

Clean Line would fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Coggin said.

Posted by Kate Gonzalez www.climateandenergy.org/