Don’t think red or blue, think green.
That’s the advice of those who want the environment to supersede the politics of Republicans and Democrats.
In Kansas anti-environmentalists are pushing for a rollback of renewable energy standards enacted by the Legislature in 2009.
Common sense prevailed, narrowly, when members of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 10-9 to table a motion to defeat new standards. Current law requires Kansas utilities to obtain 20 percent of the power they sell to come from renewable energy such as wind and solar by 2020.
The motion asked for the standards to be eased to 15 percent and extended the deadline to 2030.
Proponents of the motion say the restrictions would provide relief to ratepayers, which even the utilities themselves couldn’t support. The Kansas Corporation Commission, which oversees utilities, said the standards have had a negligible impact on electric rates.
A big difference, however, has been realized in the state by investors of wind energy — more than $3 billion worth, according to The Wind Coalition, a nonprofit devoted to the industry.
It’s because of the energy standards that Siemens, the electronics and electrical engineering powerhouse, located a new plant in Hutchinson, according to Dave Kerr, former president of the Kansas Senate and who now heads the Hutch Chamber of Commerce. Siemens plans to manufacture components for wind turbines there.
WORKING behind the scenes against green energy measures are Susan Wagle, president of the Kansas Senate, R-Wichita, and Ray Merrick, speaker of the Kansas House, R-Stillwell.
The two serve on the board of directors of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which aims to weaken renewable energy standards across the country. No surprise, but ALEC is funded by Wichita’s Koch Industries, a giant in the fossil-fuel industry.
ALEC’s influence on Kansas politics rubs Kerr the wrong way. “I don’t like outside organizations telling Kansans what they need to do,” he said in an interview with the Kansas Health Institute.
Not to mention their obvious ulterior motives to work in the best interest of their funders.
GOV. BROWNBACK seems to be above the fray.
A strong proponent for the wind energy industry, Brownback asked Congress to protect the wind production tax credit during the fiscal cliff talks, although the budget for the Department of the Interior, like everything else, is facing cuts of $883 million due to the sequestration fallout.
Wind energy development in Kansas can be credited for “3,484 construction jobs, 262 operation and maintenance jobs, and 8,569 indirect and induced jobs for Kansas citizens,” according to a 2012 report by the Kansas Energy Information Network and presented to Kansas legislators.
Dollar for dollar, investment in renewable energy industries, including solar, geothermal and hydroelectric, creates more jobs as compared with fossil fuel industries, according to a 2011 study by the Brookings Institute called “Sizing the Clean Energy.”