ALEC and their fossil fuel-funded cohorts are taking yet another crack at undermining renewable energy policy in Kansas. Fortunately, their ill-conceived antics are not distracting wind and solar development from moving full steam ahead.
This week, the Senate held a public hearing on SB 433, a bill that would outright repeal the state’s successful renewable electricity standard (RES) requiring that 20 percent of Kansas’s power come from renewable energy by 2020. The bill is sponsored by the Ways and Means Committee, which is chaired by Senator Ty Masterson — an ALEC member. While you have to marvel at their persistence and political theater — similar attacks on the RES have failed each of the last two years — the tactics behind these rollback efforts are more insidious. Recent efforts to discredit the RES by linking it to multiple utility rate hikes and Obamacare have been characterized as “nothing short of a lie,” “misleading,” and “laughable.”
In truth, the RES has already delivered substantial economic and environmental benefits to local communities and it’s been affordable. According to a Kansas Corporate Commission report, RES-driven development has had a very modest 1.7 percent impact on consumer rates. That’s why 75 percent of Kansans support the current RES policy.
Renewable energy supplied 19.5 percent of Kansas’s electricity in 2013, up from 11.8 percent the year before. With nearly 3,800 megawatts of additional wind capacity either under construction or in development (see map), Kansas is poised to blast through its RES requirement several years early. And Kansas isn’t just a wind state; a nascent solar industry is finally taking shape too.
No matter how this latest sideshow plays out, it’s clear the momentum on the side of the renewable energy industry in Kansas will be tough to break.