House protects energy standards

Members reject bill to repeal 2009 action

By The Mercury

A belated cheer for the Kansas House of Representatives, a majority of whose members on Wednesday made clear they weren’t interested in repealing renewable energy standards for utilities that became law in 2009. The vote was 77 to 42.

The bill, which the Senate had approved on Tuesday, was supported by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, which had spent more than $200,000 in television ads lobbying for repeal, and other conservative organizations.

There also are plenty of conservatives in the House. But to their credit, they rejected what Russell Jennings, a Lakin Republican, called a pitch by “folks who want to exercise political power. This is about wanting a win for the sake of having a win without considering the potential benefit all of this has.”

Those benefits, which include manufacturing plants and jobs producing wind energy products and parts, helped defeat the proposal. Also helping was that most House members recognized the flaws in the arguments to repeal the standards.

House rejection means the state will, at least for now, continue to honor a compromise struck by then-Gov. Mark Parkinson that also allowed for the construction of a coal-fired power plant in southwest Kansas. That plant, to be built in Humboldt, has been stalled by legal and regulatory challenges.

The Renewable Portfolio Standard requires that Kansas utilities be able to generate 15 percent of their peak demand electricity with alternate energy sources by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020.

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