Conservatives Aim To Roll Back Kansas Renewable Energy Standard

By Matt Kasper

Lawmakers in Kansas this week have started to hold hearings regarding the state’s existing renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS). Lawmakers in both the Senate and the House are aiming to roll back the states’ RPS.

The Senate Utilities committee voted to pass Senate Bill 82 out of committee and on to the full Senate yesterday. While the House Energy and Environment committee has HB 2241 scheduled for a final hearing on Thursday, February 21.

SB 82 would delay certain percentage targets of the RPS requirement which would mean instead of an RPS of 20 percent by 2020, it would be an RPS of 20 percent by 2024. The bill would also give authority to the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) allowing the commission to delay a utility’s RPS requirement if there was a “showing of good cause.”

HB 2241 would completely get rid of the 20 percent target by 2020, and change the law to a 15 percent requirement by 2018. The bill also states that:

Each megawatt of eligible capacity in Kansas installed after January 1, 2000, shall count as 1.10 megawatts for purposes of compliance.

This means that Kansas’ 2,712 megawatts of wind power, if installed after January 1, 2000, would now become 2,983 megawatts — resulting in an inflated percentage of wind energy power and an inflated total of renewable energy when applied to all eligible technologies.

Essentially, the bill aims to roll back the RPS twice.

Kansas enacted an RPS in May 2009 but was finalized in 2010. If this bill was enacted, Kansas would become the first state to have an RPS law weakened.

Representative Dennis Hedke, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Policy said, “We want to do everything we can to allow market forces to dictate any infrastructure build out. We don’t want to mandate. We are an all-of-the-above state.”

Tim Carpenter at the Topeka Capital-Journal points out that Rep. Hedke is a geophysicist consultant for the oil and gas industry.

But, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is a big proponent of wind energy in his state and was “pleased” when Congress extended the production tax credit (PTC) in January. As a senator, Brownback even introduced a bill to establish a federal renewable electricity standard.

The American Wind Energy Association highlights Kansas’s renewable energy standard policy as a driving factor in helping the state attract wind projects and manufacturers like Siemens. According to the Kansas Energy Information Network, 11 of Kansas’s 21 wind farms began operating between 2010 and 2012 — eight of them in 2012 alone.

Empire District Electric, a Kansas utility, had already decided to purchase wind power due to the high natural gas prices at the time, and also purchased a high percentage of natural gas base load generation. Empire wrote to its shareholders, “[Wind energy power purchase agreements] decrease our exposure to natural gas, provide a hedge against any future global warming legislation and help us give our customers lower, more stable prices.”

Also prior to the renewable energy standard legislation, the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities saw wind power as “a hedge against high market purchase prices” and estimated that their 20-year power purchase agreement for wind power would save the utility $3 million during the first decade.

The Kansas Corporation Commission, which established the rules and regulations in 2010 for the state’s renewable energy standard, recognized the problems caused by volatile fossil fuel prices, noting that wind energy in a state’s energy portfolio protects consumers. The commission stated:

Natural gas, coal, and wholesale power prices have all experienced significant volatility and upward trending costs. Wind generation provides value as insurance for customers from some of the effects of unexpectedly high and volatile fuel and wholesale energy prices.

The Heartland Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, have been looking to repeal state renewable energy standard policies since last October when ALEC’s board of directors adopted the model legislation — the Electricity Freedom Act — to roll back state standards.

Other states should expect to see ALEC and the Heartland Institute claim that renewable electricity standards raise power rates for consumers compared to states without clean energy requirements. That claim is false, however, as Richard Caperton, Director for Clean Energy Investment at the Center for American Progress demonstrated in a CAP issue brief last April.

Matt Kasper is a member of the Energy and Environmental Policy team at the Center for American Progress.

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On February 28, the Kansas Senate voted 17-23 to defeat SB 82. The House also voted 63-59 to send HB 2241 to the Committee on Utilities and Telecommunications for additional deliberation. These votes came two days after the Topeka Capital-Journal reported that a lobbyist affiliated with Koch Industries had private talks with the leader of the House Energy and Environment Committee.

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8 Responses to Conservatives Aim To Roll Back Kansas Renewable Energy Standard

  1. Henry says:

    This is happening on a much larger scale in Spain and Germany where lawmakers are attempting to roll back some of the massive subsidies given to renewables.
    Lawyers for renewable energy generators are trying to fight the new laws.

  2. SecularAnimist says:

    You know, just because the Koch Brothers’ bought-and-paid-for stooges pretend to be “conservatives” doesn’t mean that you have to play along with that fraud.

  3. With natural gas prices on the rise and wind prices falling, it only makes sense to continue to incentivize new wind energy for Kansas. What they should be debating is whether to raise the standard to 25 or 30 percent and whether to hasten the rate of adoption.

  4. Josh says:

    I like beer with my extra-crispy, wingnuts! lol.

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The Right never give up. In Australia we managed a few, pitiful and mostly useless, environmental ‘advances’ through hard struggle, viciously opposed by the Right every inch of the way. And now, as the ecological crisis becomes absolutely undeniable, as drought is followed by record rain, mega-fires rage every year, the Great Barrier Reef rapidly decays before our eyes etc (and there are many, many cetera)the latest wave of Rightwing state regimes, virulently anti-Green, have set out to destroy every single environmental achievement. Greens are relentlessly vilified in the MSM, by the Murdoch affliction in particular, a tiny cadre of Uncle and Aunty Tom indigenous are set upon environmentalists, granted a bully pulpit by the MSM and the Government owned ABC, to smear Greens as ‘racists’, (for wishing to conserve wilderness)and Rightwing politicians vie with each other to abuse them in the strongest terms. Renewable energy is under attack, the ‘wind turbine disease’ pushed by News Corpse with vigour, and mining and exporting as much coal and gas as possible is a national obsession, absolutely bi-partisan. So, if you think things are crook in the good old US of A, spare a thought for your poor Antipodean cousins.

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    You sound like a member of the ‘reality-based community’, Robert. Remember, these creatures are a higher type, who ‘make their own reality’, and the laws of physics and chemistry bow down before them.

  7. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yes, they never give up and are trying hard. But that is something different from winning the war, ME

  8. Calamity Jean says:

    What is “wind turbine disease”?