It appears the battle over the fate of Kansas' renewable portfolio standard (RPS) has come to an end for yet another legislative session, and the mandate, which requires the state's utilities to procure 20% renewables by 2020, will remain in effect.
In a 63-60 vote on May 2, the state House of Representatives rejected a bill that aimed to gradually do away with the RPS. As reported by NAW, the House had slapped down a previous proposal in March that sought to completely repeal the clean energy mandate.
According to a report from The Wichita Eagle, this latest bill would have frozen the RPS at 15% in 2016 until the statute expired in 2021. Although proponents of the new bill considered the proposal a compromise, some wind power advocates argue that it still would have damaged the state's renewable energy sector and economy.
Kimberly Svaty, director of Kansas for The Wind Coalition, says the new bill was "merely an RPS repeal rebranded," rather than a compromise.
"Since all affected Kansas utilities are over 15 percent renewable energy integration already, the new bill would have effectively halted any new renewable energy integration needed per the RPS statute," she explains.
Kansas has about 3 GW of installed wind power capacity, and Svaty says the survival of the RPS and other wind-related policies that came under attack in the legislature this year is a noteworthy success story. For the past three years, lawmakers and anti-mandate groups have attempted to weaken or repeal Kansas' RPS, but opponents made a particularly strong effort in 2014. For example, conservative group Americans for Prosperity launched a huge media campaign against the RPS through television and radio ads.
Nonetheless, it seems the RPS is safe – at least for now. The Wichita Eagle says the two head lawmakers pushing against the RPS admitted the issue is over for the 2014 legislative session, and state Rep. Annie Kuether, D-Topeka, said, "It's the final hour. We have important things to talk about, and we should not be wasting time on something that clearly the House has had a position on."
Svaty expects legislators and anti-mandate groups to revamp their anti-RPS agenda next year. However, she notes that the upcoming 2014 election will have a major impact on the overall outcome, because the entire Kansas House is up for election, as is the office of governor, lieutenant governor and other statewide titles.