The Kansas House Committee on Energy and Environment approved a bill to roll back renewable power mandates that are driving up electricity prices in the state. In a close vote on the House floor, legislators subsequently sent the bill back to another committee with the intent of killing it. However, the Energy and Environment Committee’s approval of the legislation sent a strong signal that state legislators in Kansas and other states are turning against laws requiring consumers to purchase expensive, intermittent renewable power.
Committee Approves Rollback
Legislation passed in 2009 requires Kansas electricity providers to generate 15 percent of the state’s electricity through renewable sources by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020.
HB 2241 aimed to extend the 15 percent deadline to 2018 and eliminate the 20 percent requirement.
After weeks of debate and testimony by experts on both sides of the issue, the Energy and Environment Committee approved HB 2241 by a 12-7 margin. On the House floor, however, a 63-59 vote sent the bill back to a different committee.
Secret Voting Scheme
Charlotte O’Hara, who served in the Kansas House during the 2011-2012 legislative session, told Environment & Climate News Republicans in the House who opposed rolling back the mandates feared the wrath of voters and successfully organized an effort to prevent individual legislators’ votes from becoming a part of the record.
“The House leadership said that to ‘protect our delegation from the wind energy industry,’ Rep. Richard Carlson purposely rushed the vote and ignored the call to record the vote,”
“What happened to transparency, the right of the people to know how their representative votes on all issues?” O’Hara asked.
“Calls from conservative leaders across Kansas to Speaker Ray Merrick requesting that he reassign the bill to an exempt committee were fortunately heeded,” O’Hara explained.
Proponents Not Giving Up
HB 2241 has already advanced farther than a similar bill proposed during the 2012 session. Affordable-energy advocates vow to continue the fight throughout 2013 and, if necessary, into 2014 to repeal the costly renewable power mandates.