GOP's appalling attacks on renewable energy in Kansas, Missouri
The Kansas City Star
Lawmakers are stooping to some dirty tactics to attack clean energy on both sides of the state line.
In Missouri, the Republican-led House last week voted to essentially gut a voter-approved mandate that requires electric utilities to create more renewable energy in the state. The legislators’ actions are short-sighted and a flagrant repudiation of the will of the voters.
Two-thirds of Missouri voters in 2008 approved renewable energy standards that require investor-owned utilities to get 2 percent of their electric generation from renewable sources by 2013 and 15 percent by 2021.
The House bill caters to a few large utilities, especially St. Louis-based Ameren Inc., which want to avoid investing in wind and solar power. Instead, they want to count existing large hydroelectric power sources as “new” renewable energy, even though the 2008 voter initiative appears to prohibit that approach.
The bill does not directly affect Kansas City Power & Light, the primary utility serving this region. On Monday KCP&L officials said they hoped to meet Missouri’s standards primarily through the use of new wind farms.
The Senate should not endorse the House bill, and Gov. Jay Nixon should have his veto pen ready if the measure makes it to him.
- In Kansas, efforts to roll back the state’s renewable energy standards are being led by Republican lawmakers. One of their attacks is that there’s not enough evidence to show man-made greenhouse gases are warming the Earth’s atmosphere.
Actually, this is exactly what’s going on, according to a near-consensus view of the worldwide scientific community. It’s just that climate change deniers don’t want to believe the evidence.
A number of Kansas GOP legislators claim there’s no reason to be so aggressive with the state’s law, approved by the Legislature in 2009. It requires utilities to generate 10 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2011 and 20 percent by 2020.
Fortunately, the Senate and the House in recent days have turned back attempts to water down the state law, although both bills could be resurrected.
KCP&L officials say they are on target to meet Kansas’ ultimate standards, again mostly through wind power. However, they note that transmission lines must be added in the state to get more wind-produced electricity to customers.
Gov. Sam Brownback needs to be front and center in making sure his GOP colleagues keep their hands off the renewable energy mandates. To his credit, Brownback has fought hard to expand the private sector’s job-producing investments in wind energy in recent years.
Instead of attacking clean energy laws, legislators should spend more time making sure clean, reliable and affordable renewables make up a good-sized portion of the electricity produced in Kansas and Missouri.