Kansas set to repeal renewable energy mandate

Kansas lawmakers are set to repeal the state’s renewable energy mandate and replace it with a voluntary goal for electric utilities, the Lawrence Journal-World reports.

Lawmakers have approved a bill to the end the state’s “renewable portfolio standard,” which requires utilities to get 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020, and replace it with a voluntary goal instead. The bill also limits the property tax exemption for renewable energy projects currently in law. The Legislature passed the bill on Thursday, sending it to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback for his signature.

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Lawmakers wrote the bill after negotiations between Kansas’ wind industry, energy producers and conservative groups, according to the Journal-World. They dubbed the bill a compromise, because a previous proposal would have imposed a 4.33 percent excise tax on the sale of renewable energy.

While free-market groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the state’s Americans for Prosperity branch praised the deal, green groups slammed it, claiming the renewable energy mandate created thousands of jobs and led to billions of dollars in investment in the state.

The wind industry said it supported the deal because an excise tax could have hurt existing wind projects and the lingering debate over the renewable energy mandate drove investors away from the state.

Kansas utilities have already met the 20 percent limit, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said, meaning the law has already served its purpose.

“Kansas has decided to transition the RPS to a goal in a multi-pronged agreement that gives Kansas a chance to continue to compete for wind investment," Susan Sloan, the AWEA vice president of state policy, said in a statement. "The state as a whole already gets more than 20 percent of its power from wind, with more on the way. With this new agreement in place, developers have more certainty as they look to continue growing Kansas’s homegrown resource.”

—This post was updated at 6:00 p.m.