Why the Proposed Holcomb Plant Expansion is so Important
KNRC grew out of the struggle to prevent the construction of the Wolf Creek Nuclear Power plant in the late 1970's. The constellation of issues and arguments surrounding the construction of the Holcomb plants, as well as KCP&L's new Iatan coal plant north of Kansas City and the plant Westar is proposing to build near Emporia, are very reminiscent of thirty years ago. The electric utilities, as always, have the blinders on and can only see one option - boil more water to make more electricity. The alternatives are much the same now as they were thirty years ago - Conservation and Renewable Energy Sources.
Leading the way would be improvements in energy efficiency. Simple conservation improvements can make a tremendous difference in the demand for power.
- For instance, substituting compact fluorescent bulbs for conventional incandescent bulbs gives the same amount of light for 65% less electricity.
- Adding to the insulation of residences and businesses will not only knock down peak demand, but also yield substantial savings to consumers on their energy bills.
- Ditto for replacing old, leaky windows and doors with new air-tight and well-insulated units.
It was obvious as soon as the settlement deal was announced that "the fix was in". Even some utility lobbyists were blind-sided by it. The bill needed to resolve the legislative part of the package originated in the Senate, which had proportionately fewer members who might object to it and just fewer people - period - hence fewer minds to convince. In order to avoid any rules requirement for full hearings on the measure, defunct bills that had been heard and approved previously were grabbed as needed for the purpose. Since 2369 was not explicitly being used to get Holcomb built, seven of the nine Senators who had previously voted against 2014 switched to vote for 2369 on final passage. For similar reasons, the number of Nay votes on the concurrence vote on 2369 in the House decreased from 48 to 18 compared to the last vote on 2014, which shows the steamroller effect Parkinson's gambit had.
And the real beauty of all the conservation improvements is that they generate economic impact all across the state, as hardware stores and lumber yards sell the products and local craftsmen install them.
Even more so now than in the 1970's, renewable energy can meet our energy needs. Wind power has matured as a technology, and Kansas has a tremendous wind resource that has scarcely been tapped. In that regard, the concept of Community Wind has gained prominence lately. Wind power can be brought on incrementally within a very short timeframe, providing a nimble and appropriate response to increasing demand.