Wind energy and efficiency finally get top billing at KCP&L

January 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

KCPL fended off the allegations, but they reflected a disturbing development, especially given how well the two organizations had partnered for more than five years to reduce harmful emissions from coal-fired power plants.

“My question to KCPL is: Where is the leadership?” asked Holly Bender, deputy director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign.

What a difference a few months make, especially for 270,000 KCPL customers in Kansas City.

This week, in part responding to the criticism, KCPL leaders announced new, aggressive programs that should benefit those customers for years to come, assuming eventual approval by the Missouri Public Service Commission by mid-2014.

The utility proposes to increase its use of clean wind energy and to help consumers reduce their use of electricity. A rate increase is not in the plans for at least the next two years, KCPL said.

The decision to back the construction of two wind power facilities — one each in Missouri and Kansas — is a vote of confidence in the growing importance of that form of energy in the Midwest.

And KCPL’s expansion of energy-efficiency programs could provide more customers with programmable thermostats, rebates for replacing inefficient air-conditioning units and recycling old appliances, and weatherization assistance for qualified families.

The Star previously has questioned just how quickly and completely KCPL has offered to help all of its ratepayers reduce their energy consumption. The utility has rolled out certain programs for parts of its service area but not for others. This recent positive action essentially completes the circle by allowing more Missouri customers to benefit from the utility’s offerings.

Utility officials pointed out that these programs could help avert up to $1 billion in potential rate costs over the next 20 years, a significant savings.

Sierra Club officials praised some of the utility’s moves. “KCPL is now a leader in the region on wind energy,” Bender said on Tuesday. A KCPL spokesman, Chuck Caisley, said Wednesday the two groups are “still collaborating, still working together.”

The PSC and other interested parties, such as the Sierra Club, need to closely review KCPL’s proposed programs before a decision is made within the next four months. At this point they appear quite promising.

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