- Compromise legislation brokered last week by renewables advocates, conservative groups, and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback transforms the state’s 20% renewables by 2020 mandate into a voluntary state goal. It also reduces wind projects’ currently unlimited property tax exemption to ten years while preserving some incentives for wind development.
- Repeated attacks on the state’s renewables mandate by Koch Industries, the Kansas Chamber and the Koch-funded lobbying group Americans for Prosperity forced groups like the Wind Coalition to accept legislation with downgraded supports, the Lawrence Journal-World reports. Other environmental groups and some legislators condemned the bill.
- Attacks on the state’s 2009 renewables mandate accelerated after renewables advocates helped stop the building of the Sun Flower coal-powered electricity generating facility.
The current legislature will now not have to consider proposals to terminate the mandate at the end of 2016 and to impose a permanent 4.33% excise tax on wind energy-generated electricity. Republican Governor Sam Brownback called the legislation a good compromise.
Wind Coalition lobbyist Kimberly Svaty told the Journal-World repeated attacks on the mandate had begun pushing developers to other states. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) pointed out the mandate and property tax breaks have attracted over $8 billion in private investment to Kansas. Wind advocates in the legislature condemned the bill for being developed in “the equivalent of a smoke-filled room” and “behind closed doors.”
The success of the Kansas mandate, which drove development that brings $10 million per year in lease payments to Kansas landowners, makes the rollback possible, according to a joint AWEA-Solar Energy Industries Association statement.
“The 2015 legislation also clarifies several tax policy provisions to give wind investors certainty about continuing to build,” the release reads, in what some say is spinning the defeat for wind developers. The state’s 2,967 MW of installed wind capacity provided 21.7% of Kansas electricity in 2014.