Sunflower Electric has been arguing that they desperately need two giant, CO2 belching coal plants in Holcomb, KS in order to bring cheaper energy to western Kansans. And the "Melvin Neufelds" of the state have been all too eager to take up that corporate drum beat.
But, wait! (insert record scratch here)
A report released yesterday by Innovest, an independent leading global financial firm , announced that coal can no longer be considered the cheapest source of power - if you account for coming federal regulation of carbon emissions. From the Wichita Eagle:
The report found a political and regulatory environment nationally that is tilting away from new coal plants and imposing significant new costs on them. Among the trends: The U.S. Supreme Court last year signaled its approval of federal carbon regulation. This session, Congress has introduced a flurry of carbon cap and trade bills, and the question "is not whether legislation will be enacted, but when." Moreover, the study noted the soaring costs of plant construction.So, this pretty much takes the wind out of Neufeld's sails. Not that he had much wind in them anyway. (What happened to overriding that veto, Melvin?)
All of this has changed the underlying economics of new coal-fired plants.
The report finds that while the Sunflower expansion would provide additional baseload capacity, "the carbon risks associated with an increased reliance on coal present significant financial risks for the company's owners and ratepayers."
Now that they can no longer claim "cheaper energy" as their number one reason for holding up the entire legislative session - what excuse will they have? Do you think they'll fall back on the ol' "but joggers emit more CO2 than gigantic coal plants do" line?
'Cause that one was really stupid.