Thursday, November 29, 2007

Kansas Has the Right Idea!

Why Kansas killed a coal plant proposal
Environmental and economic concerns made proposal too risky


Kansas City Star
Nov. 1, 2007

Of all the duties and responsibilities entrusted to me as governor, none is greater than my obligation to protect the health and well-being of the people of Kansas.

That is why, after months of careful study and consideration, I support the recent decision of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment regarding Kansas' energy future.

This decision will not only preserve Kansans' health and uphold our moral obligation to be good stewards of this beautiful land, but will also enhance our prospects for strong and sustainable economic growth throughout our state. Instead of building two new coal plants, which would produce 11 million new tons of carbon dioxide each year, I support pursuing other, more promising energy and economic development alternatives. Kansas has great opportunities in clean energy and alternative fuels.

Clean coal is not a reality

Throughout the nation, about 50 percent of electric power is provided by coal. In Kansas, almost 75 percent of our electricity comes from coal, and we are 10th in the country for per capita production of greenhouse gas from electric plants. Right now, "clean coal" is a goal but not a reality. While there is a lot of research under way to capture carbon, or to find ways to clean carbon from the atmosphere, none has yet proved to be successful.We now know that carbon has a huge impact on the atmosphere, and global warming is very real. In a state like Kansas, where more than 20 percent of our jobs and economy involves agriculture and the land, changes in the climate and atmosphere can be devastating. Less water and hotter temperatures will result in fewer crops and less production, and that affects our state, the country and the world.

Our economy also depends on reliable, affordable electricity for all Kansans. We have solid Kansas utility companies, including Sunflower, that have provided affordable electricity to customers for decades. Recently these utilities agreed to be partners on developing alternative energy production, maximizing our wind assets. And they will be leaders in energy efficiency and conservation efforts, so we can lower our energy consumption without sacrificing economic growth.

In 2001 Sunflower Electric Cooperative applied for an air quality permit for a single 600-megawatt coal-fired power plant. The previous administration granted the permit, but the company chose to delay its building plans and the permit expired.

Then, in 2006, a new application was filed for a far larger project. Sunflower proposed to build three new coal plants, far exceeding the needs of Kansas customers. During the process, Sunflower withdrew the application for one of the plants.

Still, only 15 percent of the energy produced in the remaining two plants would be used in Kansas; the remaining 85 percent would be sold to Colorado and Texas. So Kansans would have 15 percent of the energy and 100 percent of the pollution and environmental impact of 11 million new tons of carbon dioxide each year. That is the equivalent of putting nearly 2 million new cars on Kansas roads in one year.

Following other states' lead

Throughout the nation, there is a growing recognition of the harm caused by carbon. In April, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the EPA to determine the effects of carbon, and stated that the agency had the authority to impose regulations. Internationally renowned scientists produced further evidence this spring of the connection between global warming and carbon in the atmosphere. More than a dozen states, including Oklahoma, Florida and Texas, have decided in the last 18 months not to build new coal plants.

The other issue looming on the horizon is the probability that coal will become a lot more expensive in the next few years. There is a growing pressure for the federal government to develop national standards for carbon emissions, like countries throughout Europe and South America. Many states have already begun that process.

Carbon may become costly

Legislation has been recently introduced in Congress to tax the production of carbon. If that policy is adopted, utility companies and their customers will pay far more for energy that produces carbon and will spend billions on equipment to clean the atmosphere as thoroughly as possible. Building additional coal plants now is likely to create a significant economic liability for Kansas in the future.

Renewable energy developed and produced here in Kansas uses far less water, a precious natural resource, and produces permanent jobs for Kansans.

It is critical that our efforts with energy production protect the safety and security of Kansans while pursuing economic opportunities, wherever they may be.

Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, is governor of Kansas.
Governor Sanford can take a stand for a cleaner, healthier, and more responsible South Carolina too. Contact him and let him know how you feel about Santee Cooper's proposed dirty coal plant.

Governor Mark Sanford
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12267
Columbia, SC 29211
Phone: 803-734-2100
Fax: 803-734-5167


Anonymous3 said...

It clearly states here that Kansas needed 15% of the now canceled plant's output (which was 1600 MWs, I believe). That's 240 MW, which amounts to a lot of homes and businesses. I guess they are going to replace this with wind? Since wind turbines only produce power 20-35% of the time, which 18 hrs of the day are folks in Kansas going to be without power?

Nuclear or fossil fuel plants cannot be eliminated.

John Mellor said...

Just to provide you to one solution to your (false) dilemma -- efficiency can provide well over 240 MW more rapidly than anyone can build a coal plant, add in wind (as you suggest) and you can easily cover that amount of power.

By the way there are a number of ways to get around the intermittency problem utility-partisans like to use to eliminate wind from their planning. More on that in a future post but compressed air storage and clever siting of the turbines can boost capacity factors significantly

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