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Evergy Invests in New Wind Power To Reduce Carbon

14 days ago | Feb 05, 2020

 Last week, Evergy announced 660 MW of new wind energy making them one of the top utilities in the Country for wind power. 

Evergy will purchase wind energy from Expedition Wind developed by National Renewable Solutions in Marion County; Flat Ridge 3 developed by AEP Renewables near Kingman; Jayhawk Wind developed by Apex Clean Energy in Bourbon and Crawford Counties; and Ponderosa Wind developed by NextEra.

These additional investments in wind power will not only create hundreds of jobs during construction and good paying, permanent jobs when the wind farms become operational, but will also provide financial support, initially through donations to schools and communities hosting wind farms, followed by property taxes far into the future. Landowners leasing their land will have a new crop to depend on for income to help them manage dips in commodity prices or climate-related weather disasters. 

Evergy’s goal to reduce carbon emissions to 80% below 2005 levels by 2050 is a step in the right direction, however, we are concerned the 2050 timeline portrays a lack of urgency. The recent International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warned that to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is what the Paris Climate Accord requires, human-caused emissions of carbon will have to fall to zero by 2050. Since CO2 emissions build up in the atmosphere and remain there for centuries, carbon emissions from coal plants need to be cut in half by 2030 from 2016 levels, not 2005, as Evergy’s goal states. 

In a recent InsideClimate News report, Daniel Cohan, a Rice University environmental professor said, "One way to quickly assess the seriousness of a utility's emissions-reduction plan is to look at how it deals with coal-fired power plants, which are the leading sources of carbon emissions from the power sector. Any plan that leaves a substantial amount of coal around isn't a serious climate plan."

Evergy’s announcement highlighted their plans to retire all coal plants at the end of their useful life, currently estimated to be between 2040-2050. According to the IPCC report, in order to have the least disruptive climate transition, we must do more. Evergy needs to retire all of their coal plants by 2030.

Evergy’s investments in wind power are commendable, still we must not hang on to old coal plants that are no longer operating at their full capacity. Instead, Evergy should support securitization, a key strategy to save Kansans money (and reduce carbon) identified in the recently released London Economics Electricity Rate Study presented to the legislature. Securitization is a tool Evergy could use to refinance their coal plants and invest in additional clean technologies, like wind, solar and battery storage. With our robust wind and solar resource and a real commitment to reduce carbon, Evergy and Kansas can lead the nation in the clean energy economy.

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