Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Some more fallout from the coal plant denial

My thoughts on the KDHE denial of the coal plant near Holcomb have been previously identified. Hell, I even got into it with Greg Laden when he criticized Kansas without mentioning the denial.

Well, one of the big idiocies the pro-coal plant advocates have been promoting is the idea that without the coal plant all other alternative energy strategies in the region will be stymied. They've made this claim based on the understanding that without the coal plant investment money, there will be no attempt to build the high-energy wires that are needed to get wind power hooked into the grid.

I think this is a bogus argument on a number of fronts.

1. If the electricity is needed, the power lines will get built. The approval for their construction has already gone through state agencies, so one of the big hurdles is cleared already.

2. The power lines are/were being built by a consortia of power producers, government agencies, and other entities. I'm not convinced all those organizations are going to shut it down just because the coal plant won't be built (I could be wrong about that).

3. In Sunflower's own documentation on this plant, they cite a 15% increase in the power consumption over the next 25-50 years in SW Kansas. Even without high power transmission lines, it would appear the best way for SW Kansas to meet that increasing demand is through wind farms.

In conclusion, I don't think there's any way wind and solar power won't continue to grow within Kansas. If anything, I think the coal plant would have stymied the further development of wind power. Apparently that was the conclusion at the Dole Institute of Politics for the Kansas Electric Transmission Summit (what a name!) as reported by the Lawrence Journal World and Salina.com. In fact, the members of that conference pointed out that wind farms are increasing exponentially. If that continues, the power lines will be built, coal plant or not.

(Hat tip to Diane Silver's excellent blog In this Moment)

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