Utility commissioners in Kansas are the latest group to take aim at the Obama administration’s plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fuel-burning power plants, calling U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan a federal overreach that will burden consumers and the state’s economy.
In a 40-page report submitted to U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the Kansas Corporation Commission staff — a group of accountants, engineers and economists — delivered harsh criticism of almost every aspect of the rule proposed June 2 and called on the agency to withdraw the proposal.
Commissioners, in a signed letter accompanying the report, said that they “embrace” the views of the staff and that by proposing the rule, EPA is overreaching its authority.
“In its proposed Clean Power Plan, the EPA has inserted itself into a regulatory field occupied by the states for decades in which the states have proven expertise in public utility ratemaking and in understanding the complexity of the electric grid and electric reliability,” the three-member commission said.
“The proposed rule will disrupt the carefully balanced, cost-effective delivery of electricity in Kansas and will lead to detrimental economic effects within the Kansas economy and within the states with which Kansas does business.”
Specifically, the KCC staff report estimated that compliance with the rule, as proposed, would cost the state $5 billion to $15 billion over 13 years, the equivalent of a 10 percent to 30 percent increase in electric rates.
At least a portion of those costs, the commission staff says, will come in the form of stranded costs related to the $3 billion-plus in environmental compliance costs in EPA-approved state implementation plans.
The Kansas commission’s critique of the Clean Power Plan relies at least in part on analysis by the Southwest Power Pool, the grid operator for the central Plains whose footprint includes all of the state (EnergyWire, Oct. 10).
Members of the Kansas commission are all appointees of Gov. Sam Brownback, the Republican who holds a slim lead over Democratic challenger Paul Davis in the race for governor, according to a recent poll.
The state, known for being one of the nation’s leading wind energy producers, yet one also still heavily reliant on coal for electricity generation, has also been a battleground for conservative-led efforts to repeal state renewable energy standards.
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