Tuesday, September 30, 2014

House shows backbone, rejects repeal of energy standards

4/4/2014

There is yet some courage in the Kansas House of Representatives, and it was on full display last week when its members refused to go along with the Kansas Senate’s repeal of a renewable energy standard that has been in place since 2009.

The standard, known as RPS, requires that 20 percent of electric generation in the state come from renewable resources. Most utility companies have met the requirement years before the deadline, yet the standard has been fiercely opposed by both Americans For Prosperity and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

There is yet some courage in the Kansas House of Representatives, and it was on full display last week when its members refused to go along with the Kansas Senate’s repeal of a renewable energy standard that has been in place since 2009.

The standard, known as RPS, requires that 20 percent of electric generation in the state come from renewable resources. Most utility companies have met the requirement years before the deadline, yet the standard has been fiercely opposed by both Americans For Prosperity and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

Members of the Kansas Senate largely gave in to the Americans For Prosperity and Chamber, voting 25-15 to repeal the standard after a night that included some ridiculous debate — including a statement by Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, that increased carbon dioxide in the air improved crop yields. Additionally, supporters of the repeal relied extensively on the talking points generated by Americans For Prosperity, whose complaints — particularly wind energy’s role in massive utility rate hikes — lack even a modicum of truth.

The Kansas House of Representatives, however, showed it isn’t so easily controlled. House members refuted erroneous claims that the mandate has led to increases in utility rates across the state and that it creates an unfair economic advantage for wind energy. During the debate, one lawmaker pointed to a standing tax exemption for oil and gas wells, while other rural legislators, including state Reps. Steve Becker, John Doll, Russ Jennings, John Ewy and Bud Estes, talked about the importance of the wind industry to their local economies.

Meanwhile, other lawmakers, like Newton’s state Rep. Marc Rhoades, countered by repeating the mistruths that have been spread by groups like Americans For Prosperity and the Kansas Chamber and leveled a threat against lawmakers who didn’t support the repeal.

“Folks be advised,” Rhoades said. “If you vote this down, people will be hearing about the fact that you allowed their rates to rise.”

Rhoades’ statement is baseless, and documentation by the Kansas Corporation Commission, the Citizen Utility Ratepayer Board and individual utilities all have shown that wind energy isn’t responsible for increases in utility rates and accounts for a fraction of a penny per kilowatt hour.

Kansas House members, particularly Republicans, who voted against the repeal showed extraordinary courage in the face of hard lobbying by two of the state’s most powerful lobbies and by threats from party leadership. [Editor’s note: State Rep. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, was among those legislators voting against the measure; state Rep. Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, and state Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, voted for it in their respective houses.]

That’s the sort of courage Kansans expect from their lawmakers, who are sent to Topeka to work for their districts — not to become faithful, dutiful and unquestioning servants of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity.

— The Hutchinson News

comments powered by Disqus