Saturday, March 22, 2008

Kansas Governor Vetoes Two Coal Power Plants

This week the governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius vetoed a bill passed in the Kansas legislature that would allow for the construction of two coal power plants with total capacity of 1400 MW. Sebelius' reasons include preventing 11 million tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually. Aside from the environmental and health aspects, Sebelius also was concerned that with coal to potentially rise in price soon, new coal plants would only increase the cost of energy for the customers.

The power companies involved (Sunflower Electric, et al) are dissappointed with the veto and the possibility that these "clean coal" plants won't be built. The legislature has 23 days to overturn the veto. The power companies are concerned that the energy demand will soon overcome their current capacity. They also point out that the bill also calls for a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), "protects [the] environment [and] supports renewable energy and energy efficiency programs." Sebelius states, however, that her original legislation involving the construction of one coal plants offers these very same aspects (RPS, more wind capacity). Sebelius appears to be concerned more with energy end-use efficiency and ramping up wind production in a state with great wind-potential.

Only 14% of the capacity (200 of the proposed 1400 MW) of the plants goes towards Kansas consumers. The legislation appears to be more about economy and jobs versus environmental policy, as usual. With a potential carbon cap on the horizon, two new coal plants would produce the unwanted task of retrofitting the plants with carbon cutting technologies after completion.

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