Kansas rejects repeal of renewable portfolio standard
- Kansas will not turn back the clock on its mandate that utilities get 20% of their power from renewables by 2020. A bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives rejected 44-77 a bill that the Senate had approved the day before to repeal the renewable portfolio standard (RPS).
- The state Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, American Legislative Exchange Council and other conservative groups sought the repeal, arguing the RPS was anti-free market and was costing consumers money. But opponents successfully contended the standard had boosted the state's economy and revitalized depressed rural areas.
- Some repeal supporters noted that a quid pro quo when the Legislature approved the RPS in 2009 was the assurance that the governor would help clear the way for a highly controversial 895-MW coal plant proposed by Sunflower Electric Power. The state did ultimately approve the plant, but it became tied up in litigation and in October the Kansas Supreme Court rejected the state's air permit for it. Whether it will ever be built is still up in the air.
The bill's main sponsor, Sen. Forrest Knox, said he had nothing, really, against wind turbines. In fact, he called them "gods of the prairie," but he believes they should not be mandated. The conservative groups that instigated the repeal bill have made such efforts in other states. A North Carolina House committee voted down such an effort last year, and in about a dozen other states, including Wisconsin and West Virginia, repeal legislation has not gone far, either. Renewables proponents caution one another to stay vigilant, though, because Americans for Prosperity, ALEC and other organizations file these types of initiatives repeatedly.
The Wichita Eagle