Every time you flip on a light switch, it costs more than it should. It’s been this way since 2009, when the Legislature and Gov. Mark Parkinson forced the state’s utility companies to obtain 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy by 2020. They called this the “Renewable Portfolio Stan-dard.”
This mandate isn’t working. No matter how well intentioned it is, it harms our state’s businesses and families every day.
For Kansans, the costs come from the high price of renewable energy. Our state derives most of its renewable energy from wind power. Yet electricity generated from wind power is much more expensive than electricity from other sources like natural gas or coal.
According to the most recent estimates by the www.eia.gov and www.atinstitute.org, natural gas costs less than half of what wind power costs. Coal is 49 percent cheaper. While wind may seem cheaper, it requires expensive back-up from other energy plants. The wind doesn’t always blow — and when it doesn’t, you pay for it in your utility bill.
Topeka is thus unfairly choosing winners and losers in the energy industry. This favoritism adds up quickly for Kansas families. Consumers now have utility bills that can be hundreds of dollars more than they would be without the RPS. States with RPS mandates average 27 percent higher electricity prices.
Other states have electricity prices that don’t cost a pretty penny. Already, Kansas’ residential and commercial electricity prices are higher than most neighboring states by between 10 and 30 percent.
During the 2000s, when the economy was flying high, states passed similar laws left and right. They stopped when the Great Recession hit in 2008, likely because they did not want to pass higher costs onto struggling consumers.
Kansas didn’t get the memo. We passed our RPS law in 2009, the last state to do so.
Before the law passed, Kansas’ average electricity prices were lower than most other states. This changed within a year of the RPS mandate’s passage.
They’ve continued to rise. Already, electricity costs us 16 percent more than the national trend from the past five years. Our rates are now on track to exceed the national average within the next few years.
We don’t have to let that happen. If Topeka eliminates our state’s RPS mandates, both consumers and businesses will benefit. Surely it’s time to give Kansans a break.