TOPEKA — The Kansas Corporation Commission has taken a first step toward figuring out how the state will comply with new rules requiring states to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.
Kansas has sued to block the Clean Power Plan, but also has taken steps toward complying with it. The Legislature passed a law last session requiring the KCC to provide information about each utility’s options to comply with the carbon rules, the cost of those options and how they would affect reliability. The three KCC commissioners approved opening a general investigation docket Dec. 3 and instructed staff to contract with a consultant to examine the options.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas widely believed to contribute to climate change. The EPA’s rules set a reduction target for each of the 50 states. States have some discretion in reaching their targets, but some have raised concerns that cutting emissions from their electrical sectors could send costs up dramatically or threaten power reliability.
“Building blocks” of reduced carbon dioxide emissions could include improving the efficiency of coal-fired plants, using more natural gas and renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency to reduce the amount of energy needed, according to the EPA. The KCC regulates electric utilities in Kansas as it comes to reliability and cost, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment handles air quality.
The process will involve an educational session, which will be open to the public, with staff from KCC, KDHE and the Kansas Attorney General’s office on Jan. 12. They also will host hearings and have a public-comment period, though the schedule isn’t yet settled, according to the KCC order.
People can begin submitting written comments by visiting www.kcc.ks.gov and clicking on Your Opinion Matters. They also can mail a comment to Kansas Corporation Commission, Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, 1500 S.W. Arrowhead Road, Topeka, KS 66604, or call the public affairs office, (785) 271-3140. Comments should mention they are in connection with docket 16-GIME-242-GIE.
States are required to file their plans or request a two-year extension by Sept. 6, 2016. States have until 2029 to meet their final goals, with interim deadlines to show progress.