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Regulation of Commercial Solar Farms

Fri ,01/12/2023

These are notes from a recent Town Hall meeting on 11/16/2023 regarding proposed commercial solar farms in Sedgwick County, Kansas. Many of the regulations for commercial renewable energy installations are made through zoning decisions. Though you may not live in Sedgwick County, this may become an issue where you live.

Thanks goes to Mary Ann Harmon who researched and wrote the following article.


Sedgwick county has a six-month moratorium on utility (commercial) solar farms (USF) that began September 2023. On November 16th, the entities involved in planning convened a town hall to take comments from all the shareholders on whether there should be such utilities in the county, and, if so, how they should be regulated. The meeting was attended by well over 100 people from various governing and regulatory groups, and members of the public, some of whom will be living near the proposed USF between Colwich and Maize. There are many issues to consider when deciding to site and regulate any utility.

Location, Location, Location

The location of the proposed USF is adjacent to a power plant that is being decommissioned. This provides a huge advantage, as most, if not all the transmission lines that are required for a utility are already in place.

Installing a new transmission line system for a utility can cost upwards of half a billion dollars. Here is an interview regarding the difficulty of siting transmission lines: Transition to clean energy is happening faster than you think-reporter-says October 5 2023 NPR

Residents of the area believe that the property is too valuable to put it to an ‘unsightly’ solar farm. They say this will prevent the growth of their towns.

There are calls to utilize rooftops to prevent some of the issues listed below, and this has validity. Arguments for USFs point to the economies of scale, the ability to use panels that will follow the sun, etc. But the current, dire situation calls for both rooftop and USFs.


There are concerns that a solar farm can produce a lot of glare. Fortunately, there is new technology that can totally eliminate glare to protect against danger to airline pilots or drivers approaching from an elevation. It also prevents ‘lake effect’ when birds see reflections off the panels, and dive down, intending to land. This can result in the bird’s injury or death.

Long term commitment: The contract for the property will be for 35 years, with an option to renew for another 35 years. This presents a plethora of opportunities for failure. There is a history of corporations establishing a USF, only to sell it to other companies later, resulting in a facility that is not well managed. Appropriate regulation with penalties at the local level could ameliorate this problem.

Environmental concerns

. Sourcing of materials: Materials for and construction of panels vary greatly. It is essential that all solar panels, especially in our neighborhoods, be made carefully for robust service, and with materials that are responsibly sourced to reduce impacts to the environment and society. It is prudent and responsible to prevent sources that use slave labor, seabed mining, wildly unsafe manufacturing processes, and other unsustainable practices.

·      Greenhouse gases:  Solar panels are not without cost to the environment, but a much better alternative to fossil fuels. A 2023 article by CNET states: “…when it comes to greenhouse gases, solar panels pay for themselves within one to four years of use, according to a report by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “Pros and Cons of Solar Panels: Are they worth it?” Written by Katie Collins, Eric Mack Updated Aug. 9, 2023

·      Land Use: The property in Sedgwick County under contract for the USF is very fertile ground, not ideal for use by solar panels only. However, the county has identified possible co-uses. The land under and around the panels can be used for plants helpful to pollinators. Certain vegetable crops thrive in lower sun settings, and so can use the shade of the panels. Sheep have also been grazed successfully in these facilities. We cannot forgo this opportunity to utilize this ground. Here is an excellent article on solar farms and biodiversity: Solar farms are often bad for biodiversity — but they don’t have to beYes, we can have clean energy and tortoises too.”

·      Precious local water: The proposed USF is poised above the Equus beds, vital to the drinking water supplies of Wichita and surrounding communities. Whether these panels, and the associated equipment, could affect that water must be examined as part of an environmental impact study. The metals inside the panels can cause contamination if the panels are damaged, so any ongoing operating regulations of such a farm need to include regular inspection.

Economic concerns

The proposed site is under contract with a huge international corporation, and there are rumors that the operation will be run as a Limited Liability Corporation, or LLC. LLCs are very difficult to hold accountable under law. There are also concerns that much of the money brought into and being earned by the LLC will not benefit the local economy, especially after the initial build. Such a utility requires very little labor to operate, while occupying a large swath of land.

Power generated here will be sold on the market, just as most utilities. Electricity could be transmitted to other states, depending on demand. Kansas has a history of profiting from and shipping excess to other locations, being the breadbasket of the continent.

Threat from hail, tornadoes, straight winds is not to be ignored. But these threats will only increase if we do not reduce the fossil fuel emissions that have thrown our earth into greater and greater extremes. Most of those extremes have been impacting other areas. That does not reduce our responsibility to create clean energy with the resources at hand, just the same way Kansas has provided wheat to famine areas.

The only Kansas incentives for solar power generation are a moratorium on property tax on the land in use for a10-year period after construction. As it has been pointed out, these incentives are not available in Oklahoma, but Oklahoma has different incentives for solar generation that do not fit the plans Invenergy have. But most states have some method in place to attract renewable energy. See the incentives here: “Financial Information: Funding, Incentives, Tax Breaks, and Programs” Agrisolar Warehouse

There are, of course, federal monies for this project thru the Inflation Reduction act. Full regulation of these projects is good stewardship of the taxpayer dollars, the land entrusted to us, and the water below it.


A 2020 Harvard Business Review article states: “First Solar is the sole U.S. panel manufacturer we know of with an up-and-running recycling initiative, which only applies to the company’s own products at a global capacity of two million panels per year. With the current capacity, it costs an estimated $20–$30 to recycle one panel. Sending that same panel to a landfill would cost a mere $1–$2. ‘There must be regulations in place, perhaps contributions to a recycling fund over time to ensure that the panels are properly handled at the end of their useful lives. Technology to recycle solar panels advances daily.

Even though this is decades in the future, there must also be thought about what state the land must be in after the solar panels have been removed.

So much to consider! How can we make this work for everyone? The main issues to be considered are size, setbacks, decommissioning, payment in lieu of taxes, and rules and regulations that define best practices in this type of zoning case. These are very complex issues that requires much study, caution, and input from the public!

Additional information

The Town Hall meeting was recorded and is available on YouTube here.

Solar ‘farm’ proposed for rural Sedgwick County by Craig Andres, March 28, 2023, Wichita Eagle (simplified article)

Commercial solar projects in Sedgwick County? Residents weigh in at townhall meeting by Matthew Kelly, Wichita Eagle November 17, 2023 (simplified article)

Photos of the posters from the Town Hall Forum by Randi Thimesch

Photos: The Growth of Solar-Power Stations by Alan Taylor, The Atlantic, Nov. 27, 2023

The information is from the 316 United newsletter and reflects the author’s personal opinions. Its intent is to provide interested people with different touch points to consider. This is a complicated subject which deserves your personal research. 

316 United is an Environmental Conservation Organization, whose goal is “Uniting people for sustainability”. Follow: See all

Who is to Blame for High Gas Prices, 2023?

Sun ,26/11/2023

” There’s a tendency for politicians to assign blame or credit to the President for gas prices – when actually the President has very little to do with the price of gas.”

Prices in Wichita,11/23/2023.

The Republican strategy for the 2024 election is to try to pin the economic problems and inflation we have been facing on President Biden. The price of gasoline is something we are reminded of every time we fill up our car, so we have heard a lot about the price of gasoline during this presidential campaign.  The implication is that Pesident Biden is responsible for high gas prices, and thus for inflation. However, that is not the whole story. Oil prices respond mostly to international events and it appears that inflation is mainly caused by corporate greed. Gas prices are now dropping, so will President Biden get the credit?

Historical Gas Prices: The International Energy Agency (EIA) graph shows that historically fuel prices tend to follow international events. Average US gas prices hit a high of $4.12 per gallon in July of 2008,  while  George Bush was still president. The spike was attributed to increased demand at a time when production was stagnating. Gas prices hit a new high of almost $5.10 in 2022, mostly in response to inflation, unrest in the Middle East, and the war in Ukraine. The high prices have cut the demand for petroleum, and gas prices now average $3.28 per gallon and are dropping rapidly. Gas prices recently dropped locally to $2.62 a gallon and are likely going to drop more.

Oil Prices: If you’re looking for someone to blame for high gas prices, you might consider looking at the large oil companies. Oil companies blame high fuel prices on inflation and environmental regulations which reduce production. They wish to complete the XL pipeline and to drill on public land, in National parks, in wildlife refuges, and in environmentally sensitive areas. Those policies would be okay for the oil companies, but they would increase air pollution, increase greenhouse gas concentrations, and put a large number of environmentally fragile areas at a risk of being damaged. It is interesting that the largest oil companies made $174 billion in profits in 2021, as gas prices were going up. The United States consumed 124 billion gallons of gasoline, and the oil companies made $1.40 in profits for every gallon sold, and they also received about $0.13 per gallon in federal and state subsidies. Currently, oil costs $85 a barrel. That is $25 less than a barrel cost 10 years ago, yet the price of fuel had almost doubled by 2022.

Oil profits in 2021.

It seems that domestic oil production has  little effect on the price of gasoline. Last year our largest export was fuel, so it is likely that if we produce more fuel, we will just export more while gas prices continue to rise in the U.S. It also appears that gasoline prices do not follow the law of supply and demand, both things that Exxon/Mobil and the other oil companies should have to explain. They receive large subsidies; their products do not bear the cost of dumping large amounts of CO2 into the environment; and they have been quite profitable while many small US companies are struggling to stay afloat, in part because of the high fuel prices.

Inflation: The Cares Act injected a large amount of money into the economy because of Covid, causing some inflation. However, it appears that the continuing inflation is mainly the result of corporate greed. The main drivers of inflation are record shattering profits for oil companies and other megacorporations. Basic commodities like groceries are more expensive, partly becaused of increased transportation costs, but also because giant conglomerates, like Kroger, Cargill, Tyson, and JBS are raising prices because they see it as an opportunity to make record-setting money for their executives and shareholders. According to Bloomberg, US corporate profits are now soaring, with profit margins the highest since 1950.

Rather than blaming the President for inflation, perhaps we should blame corporate greed.

(C) 2023 – J.C. Moore

A Visit to a Recycling Center

Mon ,08/05/2023

Have you ever wonder what happens to the recyclables you put in your recycling bin? In April, the ReGreening Wichita group visited the Stutzman recycling center in Hutchinson, which sorts the materials from Wichita and the surrounding areas.

The sorted materials are then sold to companies which can recycle them into usable products. The center has recently been upgraded and can handle almost any materials except plastic bags, hard plastics, and Styrofoam. Each recycling center is different, so please check with your recyclables collection company to see what materials they can take. This website cannot handle the short video clips, but this was originally posted to Facebook and you may see it by following this link.

Here is the schematic of a typical recycling Center:

Note added on 06/02/2023: A recent study found that plastic bags taken to many grocery stores such as Target and Walmart to be recycled end up in landfills, and a few even ended up in foreign countries. Only about 9% of all plastic waste is recycled, 12% is incinerated, and about 79% ends up in landfills. Microparticles from plastics have been found in the bodies of about 80% of the US population. The wise thing to do is to stop using single use plastics as much as you can.

The Cornwall Alliance’s Attacks on Climate Science Are Misinformation

Thu ,23/02/2023

Exxon Mobil’s scientists discovered in about 1980 that the continued use of fossil fuels would have serious consequences for the Earth’s climate by 2030. Instead of searching for solutions, Exxon Mobil’s management disbanded the science research group, and began a campaign of misinformation to protect their profits. The Cornwall Alliance later became part of that misinformation campaign.

The Cornwall alliance was originally formed to protect indigenous people and the poor from the effects of global warming. E Calvin Beisner hijacked the name, and his efforts to protect the poor mostly amounted to promoting their use of fossil fuels. Indigenous communities do not have the wealth or the infrastructure for fossil fuel use and they have lived for centuries without using them. However, Dr. Beisner uses the poor in his religious arguments to promote fossil fuels. He publishes a weekly blog where he denies the findings of climate scientists, attacks renewable energy sources, and promotes the ideas of the 1% or so of scientists who are critical of global warming. I have followed his blog for years, and here are a few of his opinions from the last six months:

  • “… the political left has declared gas stoves to be a threat to humanity.” Not exactly, but research has found that gas stoves emit nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide. Their use is the source of much of the methane that escapes into the atmosphere. Note that he always blames the political left and liberals, as it just wouldn’t do to say “scientific research has found…

  • … Your retirement fund may have been shanghaied by BlackRock and Wall Street asset managers to advance political causes they think will make the world a better place. Or, they may realize that fossil fuel use is declining and it makes better sense to invest in renewable energy.

  • … People in America and around the world are in danger of becoming slaves to scientism and scientocracy. That is how he describes sound science based upon evidence, as opposed to the scientists he quotes – who have little evidence. He warns against the danger of merging science and religion, and then he merges anti-science views with religion. Which is more dangerous?

  • He asks, “Should we trust the UN’s climate science? The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is made up the of world’s best climate scientists and is based on the best data available. Dr. Beisner doesn’t trust them because they publish a report detailing why we need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions.

  • And then he went after the” False Promise of EVs”. One of his claims is that the government is imposing its plans on car manufacturers. However, it might be because consumers are choosing EVs for all the advantages they have over internal combustion engines.

  • He claims that next-generation science standards are a “serious threat to the education of America’s children”. He does not want them to be taught about evolution, which he conflates with the “dogma of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.” It might be okay to conflate them, as they are both soundly based on scientific evidence.

  • He claims that there are competing worldviews of Environmentalism and Christianity. Dr. Beisner would like you to believe this, but the reality is that most mainstream Christians and Evangelicals believe that God expects Christians to protect the Earth and its environment.

  • He asks, “Is the true crisis climate change… Or climate policy?” Naturally, he thinks that it is the climate policy, as it calls for a reduction in fossil fuel use. He follows this up with an invitation to the International Conference on Climate Change (not to be confused with the IPCC), which is a meeting sponsored by the oil companies and devoted to research disputing the findings of climate science.

  • He thinks that India’s recent lethal cold spells are evidence that there is no global warming. However, the warming Arctic has changed the jetstream so that it creates a polar vortex where frigid air is pulled further south. He thinks he has found the ultimate contradiction, but it just confirms what climate scientists have found.

  • He thinks that “The end of oil will be the end of civilization”. That sounds strange coming from someone who claims to have a Doctorate in History. The earliest known civilizations arose in Mesopotamia about 3500 B.C., and civilization had existed for over 50 centuries before oil came into widespread use. Some scientists, on the other hand, are worried that global warming will lead to the end of civilization as we know it.

  • Finally, he calls scientists “doomsayers” when they report about the ill effects of global warming upon the Earth and its inhabitants. They are just reporting scientific evidence supported by data. It would be to mankind’s advantage to listen to the scientists before we reach a tipping point from which we can never recover.

The opinions listed are only from the last six months, but the Cornwall Alliance has advanced such opinions for over a decade. Dr. Beisner will not divulge the source of the considerable amount of funds needed to support the Cornwall Alliance, but all trails seem to lead to fossil fuel companies. He would like for you to believe the money comes from donations, but Charity Navigator reports that the Cornwall Alliance does not receive enough in donations to be evaluated as a charity.

(C) – 2023. J.C. Moore

Note! The Cornwall alliance newsletter regularly publishes some spectacular misinformation. Here is a sample of it:

10/6/2023 On the same day that Hurricane Hilary hit Los Angeles, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake occurred in nearby Ojai. Mr. Beisner said, “To the truly enlightened, these rare disasters should serve as a warning from on high that the Golden State is headed for a massive downfall – punishment for trying to force smog-fighting electric vehicles on smog-free America and the world.” – Wow!

07/27/2023 The Cornwall alliance want you to know, ” Global Warming Saves Lives”. – This advice comes during the most severe heat wave the Earth has experienced in last 10,000 years.

07/13/2023 “Biden’s Energy Policies Cost US Households More Than $2300 Since 2021”. – They ar. apparently blaming Biden rather than the oil companies for inflation. Nicholas Stern, past president of the World Bank, calculated that global warming is costing us 5% of the GDP, about $800 billion, each year.

07/06/2023 ” Americans Increasingly Choose a Warmer Life“. – You actually have no choice. The earth’s temperature has gone up about 2.1°F in the last century, and it’s going to keep rising as long as we listen to Dr. Beisner.

06/25/2023 “Epic Fail in America’s Heartland: Climate Models Greatly Overestimate Corn Belt Warming“. – This comes as crippling heat waves are striking the midwest and Texas and as Oregon is suing Exxon and other oil companies for the damage when 2020 temperatures reached 116° -in Oregon?

04/13/2023 ” Nearly a billion Indians use coal to Cope with heat waves.” – Apparently, E Calvin Beisner thinks India should burn more coal. The heat waves are made worse by the CO2 emitted from coal. So burning more coal will release more CO2 which will make the heat ways worse. The coal companies that help finance the Cornwall Alliance are happy with that.

3/10/2023 “The Economic Case for Net Zero Is Zero “Implementing net zero will depress the global economy more than the atmospheric warming that the campaign against carbon dioxide emissions is supposed to prevent.” – Apparently Mr. Beisner has not read the Stern report which, using the results from formal economic models, estimates the overall costs climate change is equivalent to losing at least 5% ($727 billion in 2010) of global GDP each year. And unaddressed, the cost could rise to 20% of GDP or more by 2050 – and increase the risk of an environmental catastrophe.

3/14/2023  “’The Climate Crusaders Are Coming for Electric Cars Too,’ a prophesy consistent with a concerning social control trend I have witnessed.” – Apparently, Mr. Beisner thinks the Climate Crusaders want you to walk to work.

4/11/2023 “The science teachers’ bureaucracy is driving climate education into an unquestioning adherence to unscientific methodology.” – Science teachers’ bureaucracy?

Kansas Is Set to Approve Net Energy Metering Bill

Thu ,16/02/2023

The Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications Committee is now holding hearings on HB 2228. The bill will reset the total capacity limitation for net energy metering (NEM) systems that may operate within the service territory of an investor-owned electric utility. The total capacity is now set at 1% and it will be increased to 10%, allowing many more customers to install their own solar panels or wind energy systems. If a customer generates electricity in excess of their monthly consumption, all such net excess energy shall be carried forward from month to month and credited at a ratio of one-to-one against the customer’s energy consumption in subsequent months. It will also increase the load size limitations on a customer’s NEM system up to 250 kW.

HB 2228 is likely to pass as it is supported by many homeowners and businesses for the following reason:

  •  Kansas has some of the more restrictive net energy metering (NEM) policies in the country. They discourage residents from choosing lower cost options which would benefit both Kansas citizens and the electric companies.
  •  Residents who install their own power generation systems, such as wind and solar, need to back up their system either with a battery or a connection to the power grid. NEM is a lower cost option than a battery system and provides a number of benefits for Kansans.
  • An independent study in California found that NEM customers provide a benefit both for other ratepayers and for the electric company.
  • NEM customers allow utilities to avoid costs of generation and fuel, maintenance, and the upgrade of transmission and distribution infrastructure.
  • NEM helps avoid the cost of transmission losses (which account for 7% of losses), avoids additional capacity purchases, and increases compliance with renewable energy standards.

      • NEM also reduces peak loads, transmission losses, and the need for new power plants.

  • Similar research studies in Vermont, New York, California, Texas, Missouri, and Nevada also concluded that net metering provided a net positive benefit for utility companies and their customers.
  • It will ensure greater access and affordability of distributed generation systems utilizing solar and wind energy.
  • It gives businesses and homeowners an immediate remedy to better manage their electric
    energy costs and reduce their monthly bills.
  • NEM will help stabilize the grid and add to its security. It and any battery backups will feed electricity into the grid when needed.
  • It is good for the environment as it helps reduce emissions from coal-fired and gas power plants.

The main opposition to the bill comes from the Evergy electric company, which provides electricity to over one-half of Kansas’ residents. They ignore the benefits of NEM to their company and are reluctant to give up the profits generated by their coal-fired power plants.

How a Carbon Dividend Could Help Homeless Veterans

Tue ,06/12/2022

A carbon dividend results from the Carbon Fee And Dividend approach to regulating greenhouse emissions. The money collected by the fee is not a tax, as it would be distributed equally to all citizens to compensate for the rising cost of fuel. In the United States, it is proposed that a fee of $15 per ton be placed on carbon fuels at the source or port of entry, and the fee is increased by $10 per ton each year until carbon emissions are reduced to 1990 levels. The dividend would begin at about $30 a month for each citizen and would increase to about $300 a month after 10 years. The cost of the fee would add about $0.13 to a gallon of gas, and it would increase yearly by about nine cents a gallon.

As of January 1, 2023, the G-7 nations will begin placing tariffs on trading partners who do not have an adequate carbon price. The United States must put a price on carbon or begin paying tariffs on our exports. The dividend produced would not make much difference to the wealthy, however, it would be very valuable to those with low incomes. If they reduce their fossil fuel use, it will become an extra source of income. One very positive use of the dividend provided by a Carbon Fee And Dividend bill would be to help homeless veterans. The dividend could make a huge difference for the homeless, especially for homeless veterans.

There are about 50,000 homeless veterans, and many of them have health, mental health, or PDST problems. It is hard for them to receive medical help, counseling, Veteran benefits, or to find jobs if they have no permanent residence. To help their homeless population, several cities such as Austin, Kansas City, and Springfield have begun building villages of tiny homes for the homeless. Each village provides its residents with a tiny home, a garden area, and a counseling center where they can go for help. Each resident is expected to contribute to the village with pay, pensions, Social Security, or in some other way.

If carbon dividend were to be distributed to each veteran, it would provide a valuable revenue stream to maintain the village. It would also encourage other cities to build small villages for the homeless. Most importantly, it would help our homeless veterans get the homes and care they need. It would make all the difference in the world in their lives.

Who Is Responsible for High Electric Rates in Kansas?

Tue ,15/03/2022

“Evergy is responsible for the high electric rates in Kansas, but the Kansas Legislature is to blame for nothing being done about it. “

In 2008, Kansas disbanded the Kansas Energy Council, which sought to take a strategic approach to the development of the state’s energy system. This left the three-member Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) responsible for regulating electric rates in the state, along with regulating all the other state corporations. Besides being overloaded, the KCC is reactive rather than proactive. That is, Evergy brings their rate requests to the KCC and they decide how much of the rate request is justified. Neither the KCC nor any other state agency is responsible for proactively planning how to develop the electricity needs of the state in such a way as to balance Evergy’s needs with those of the consumers.

Until recently, the KCC had a majority of members who looked unfavorably on renewable energy. Mark Ruelle, past CEO of Evergy, attended an ALEC meeting where a strategy was devised to discourage net energy metering (NEM) customers from installing their own wind turbines or solar panels. The idea was to convince other customers that they were subsidizing NEM customers. That is not true. An independent study in California found that NEM customers provide a benefit both for other ratepayers and for the electric company. NEM customers allow utilities to avoid costs of generation and fuel, maintenance and upgrade of transmission and distribution infrastructure, transmission losses (which account for 7% of losses), capacity purchases, and compliance with renewable energy standards. NEM also reduces peak loads, transmission losses, and the need for new power plants. Similar research studies in Vermont, New York, California, Texas, Missouri, and Nevada also concluded that net metering provided a net positive benefit for utility companies and their customers. Still, the KCC allowed Evergy to impose an extra charge on those customers, even though they are helping to reduce electric rates. That policy was finally struck down by a court ruling which found it discriminatory to charge different rates for NEM customers.

The KCC has been generous with Evergy. Residential customers now pay a customer fee, an electricity fee, a fuel charge, a distribution fee, an environmental fee, an energy efficiency charge, and even Westar’s property taxes. Evergy has submitted 22 rate cases since 2008, and the KCC has allowed rate increases in most of those. In 2008, electricity in Kansas was 7.49 cents per kilowatt-hour but it has since grown to 12.7 cents per kilowatt-hour. That is less than inflation, but still much more than it needs to be. A decision was made by Evergy a decade ago to invest in coal-fired energy production, ignoring environmental concerns. Since then environmental regulations have escalated the costs of operating coal plants. Over 50% of Evergy’s energy is now produced from non-carbon sources, which are much less expensive than coal-fired power plants. Yet Evergy is still running their coal-fired power plants because they can charge more for fuel costs.

In 2019, the Kansas Legislature commissioned London Economics to study why Kansas had higher electric rates than the surrounding states*. Their main findings were that areas that need improvement are:

  • Residential rates of IOUs (investor-owned utilities) are high compared to similarly regulated utilities in regional states;
  • Ratepayers continue to pay for utility investments that are underutilized;
  • IOU cost recovery through surcharges and riders without a comprehensive ratemaking process is contributing to rising costs to ratepayers; and
  • Kansas lacks a mandated IRP ( integrated resource plan), as found in other states.

To correct this the London study offered four near-term recommendations:

  • Adopt a state energy plan;
  • Create a competitive procurement framework and require regulated utilities to submit integrated resource plans at regular intervals;
  • Allow KCC to explore the development of performance-based regulation mechanisms to incentivize efficiency and alignment with customer benefits and state policy objectives; and
  • Establish a framework for the retirement and securitization of assets where cost-benefit analysis demonstrates clear benefits to customers.

In response to the London study, the Governor submitted an Executive Reorganization Order (ERO) to develop a State Energy Plan and create an Independent State Energy Office. This would have given Kansas the ability to proactively plan for our long-term energy needs and to look for ways to decrease our electric rates. EROs routinely go into effect 60 days after submission, unless they are rejected by the legislature. However, when the Governor’s ERO was submitted to the legislature, they voted it down. The Republican majority did not want a Democratic Governor to get credit for creating the office or to be able to appoint members to it.

So there you have it. The legislature spent almost $1 million on the London study, but refused to implement its recommendation because of partisan politics. When your electric bill gets really high next summer, remember who is responsible.

*The Kansas Legislative Research Department has a guide to how electric rates are set and lists the history of legislative action on electric rates. It also contains a summary of the London study.

Note added on 03/08/2023: “A nationwide comparison of electric utility performance by an Illinois consumer advocacy group found that customers in states that are heavily reliant on fuel oil and natural gas, as in the Northeast and South, tend to pay more than those with larger amounts of carbon-free generation, among other findings.” Kansas ranked 33rd in affordability.

Global Warming: Alarmism Versus Denial

Sat ,19/02/2022

Fossil fuel companies knew in 1979 that carbon dioxide emissions would cause the Earth to warm, creating undesirable consequences for the Earth. By 1981, the Exxon scientist concluded that the burning of fossil fuels could be catastrophic for some of the world’s population by 2030. The choice between huge profits and the possibility of harming the Earth and its inhabitants was a tough ethical choice for Exxon’s scientists, but not so much for management. They launched a campaign to keep the truth hidden and to keep themselves from being regulated. Their main strategy was obfuscation and denial.

Evangelical Christians were some of the first to become concerned about how global warming would impact the Earth’s population, mainly the poor. Genesis 1:28 says, ” Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”  Generally, those who argue for Christian stewardship think that “dominion” means “benevolent rule”. The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, in 2000, developed the Cornwall Doctrine. Its main goal was to address the challenges faced by indigenous communities and the poorer countries as they faced climate change.

In 2008, the Cornwall alliance was taken over by Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, a Dominionist, who interprets the scripture to mean “subdue and exploit”, an interpretation which is received quite favorable by oil companies. Beisner argues that we should take what we wish from the Earth, without regard to its effect upon the environment. As far as the catastrophic effect on some of the world’s population, Beisner assuages his conscience by claiming that efforts to limit carbon emissions are actually harming poor countries by denying them fossil fuels. Poor countries do not have the resources or the infrastructure to use fossil fuels and distributive energy sources, such as wind and solar, would be most useful to them. And, indigenous communities will be hurt the most. The way of life that has sustained them for centuries is now being disrupted by climate change.  They do not have the resources to withstand prolonged droughts or protect themselves from sea level rise or flooding.

Beisner uses religious arguments as the apparatus of justification to reach out to conservative Christians and solicit donations. There is little evidence that the money goes to the poor. Charity Navigator says, “This organization cannot be evaluated by our Encompass Rating methodology because it files Form 990-N, as allowed by the IRS for charities with less than $50,000 annual revenue.” The Cornwall Alliance is funded by dark money and there is no way to establish how much money it collects, who supports it, or how the money is used. Critics of the Cornwall Alliance have accused the organization of being a “front group for fossil fuel special interests,” citing its strong ties to the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, which in the past was funded by oil industry giants such as Exxon-Mobil and Chevron. 

Beisner uses “climate alarmist”, in a pejorative way, to describe the 99.5% of climate scientists who know that climate change is caused by man’s activity. Of course, scientists are alarmed as Beisner, and others like him, are part of a disinformation campaign to keep governments from taking action on climate change. E Calvin Beisner does not like being called a “denier”, but denying scientific evidence is his main way of dealing with those “science alarmists”. And, he uses religious arguments to bolster his position.

Beisner is quite concerned that Katharine Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian, is infringing on his territory. Dr. Hayhoe is a Canadian-born climate scientist now living in Texas. She is excellent at communicating complex ideas, and her website and her recent book, Saving Us, are excellent primers on climate change, understandable to a non-specialist audience. Her explanations are not just limited to science but extend to religion, politics, and behavioral psychology. I sent a copy of her book to E. Calvin Beisner. He sent me a nice thank you for the book and said he hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet. Along with the letter were enclosed, not one, or two, or three…., but nine articles criticizing Katharine Hayhoe. The articles claim she is entangled in climate idolatry, has no business venturing into theology, is a climate alarmist, is wrong about global warming affecting the weather, and implies she could not believe in God and also man-made global warming. Beisner is sure these are true, even though he has not read her book.

Beisner likes to use religious arguments, but his views are at odds with both religion and science. Apparently, he has very little understanding of ecology. Pope Francis’s encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si, says that “climate change is real and mainly a result of human activity.” “The problem is urgent. Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.” Beisner claims that Pope Francis was just wrong, probably news to most Catholics. Beisner’s position is even at odds with his own Presbyterian faith. The Presbyterian Church is now recommending divestment from fossil fuels and it was one of the first churches to address global warming. The Presbyterian Church first noted its “serious concern over global warming at the 1990 General Assembly, when it warned that the global atmospheric warming trend (the greenhouse effect) represents one of the most serious global environmental challenges to the health, security, and stability of human life and natural ecosystems’’.

E. Calvin Beisner is certainly right about one thing. Scientists are alarmed because they understand that we are beginning to reach a tipping point from which we will never recover. Scientific models claim we have till about 2030 to reduce our carbon emissions – or the oil companies’ early predictions of catastrophes will come true. Beisner often dismisses any predictions about the future made by scientists by claiming they are based on computer models. However, computers are the way we now store and process information and models are the way that scientists understand complex systems. And, the Cornwall Alliance serves as a good model for understanding global warming denial. 

(c) 2022 JC Moore – all rights reserved.

Is Carbon Capture and Storage a Viable Option?

Sun ,17/10/2021

The countries of the world have reached a consensus that we need to reduce our carbon emissions. One proposal to do that is to switch to a hydrogen economy. The problem is that currently about 95% of the hydrogen we use is made using fossil fuels, which is an energy-intensive process that produces more CO2. The fossil fuel companies plan to get around that is to capture the carbon produced and store it (CCS). The questions that must be answered are how to capture the carbon, where to store it, and how much it will cost.

It is possible to capture the CO2 and there are now several plants currently doing it. Much of the captured carbon is currently used to produce more fossil fuels, so there is little gain in doing it. The chart below will give you an idea of the magnitude of the problem. Currently, we are adding 35 billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year. The amount of carbon currently captured is 0.006% of that, an amount so small that it could not even be seen on the chart.

If carbon capture could be scaled up to capture most of the CO2 we are emitting, then where would we store it? The most obvious solution is to store it where it came from. The carbon from coal is mostly from strip mines and open mines, and it cannot be stored there. For petroleum and methane, storing it back underground is a possibility. However, burning them combines them with oxygen – and increases the mass and volume by a factor of two or three. It would be impossible to store more than a fraction of the CO2 back underground.

Assuming we could capture the carbon and find a place to store it, what would be the cost? This would involve acquiring the land, building the thousands of CCS plants required, and providing the energy necessary for the process. That cost has been estimated to be about $5 trillion a year, at current prices, for the rest of this century. There are certainly much less expensive options available.

So there you have it, the amount of CO2 we are putting into the atmosphere is far too great to capture, there is no adequate place to store captured CO2, and the cost would be astronomical. However, the fossil fuel companies are willing to try if we subsidize their costs, fund their research, and wait 80 years. It will be painfully obvious, long before then, that CCS is unworkable. The best plan is obviously to stop putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a solution the fossil fuel companies are unwilling to accept.

A Road Trip in an EV

Fri ,30/07/2021

This is a guest post written by Darrel Hart of Wichita, Kansas. Many people have expressed fears about the range of Electric Vehicles or about finding charging stations. This article should put those fears mostly to rest.

“The last 10 days we drove an electric vehicle over 2,700 miles from Wichita Kansas to a mountain resort in West Virginia. We went up and down from parks to waterfalls to cabins, then on to Maryland and back. The cost of the (one way) trip going east was about $70. Charging prices ranged from 1/4 to 1/2 the price of fossil fuel, and sometimes charging was free. The state of West Virginia has free charging in the state parks we visited. Some businesses install charging devices to draw customers. In Frederick Maryland, I know of 2 grocery stores providing free charge while you shop, as does a wine serving establishment, and some hotels have slow chargers at very low prices for overnight.

Tesla has charging stations scattered along the interstate highways. Other brands of charging equipment are already in some markets and the VW/Ford agreement (to increase the number of chargers) is financing more. The (my) car’s computer looks ahead and schedules charging and directs you to it. We zoomed along at 70. Charging times were from 5 minutes to 40, but we ate or bought a coffee and we were back on the road with very little time difference. No time was spent over the fumes and oil spots of a gas station. Your next car should be electric. If you plan to use it on road trips, look for a range of 250 miles or more.”