Wichita Eagle: Next Legislative Session Could Be End for Kansas’ Renewable Energy Standard

Republicans may have gained enough seats in the Kansas House to end the state’s renewable energy standard, and activists on both sides of the issue are preparing for a fight in the next legislative session.

The policy, known as the renewable portfolio standard, requires utility companies to get 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020. The standard was passed in 2009 as part of a compromise that included building a coal-fired plant in Holcomb, Kansas, a project that has not developed because of federal regulations.

Supporters say the standard has been critical for developing the burgeoning wind energy industry in Kansas and that scuttling it would stall growth.

Opponents say the standard will lead to electric rate increases for consumers and that renewable energy should compete with fossil fuels in the free market rather than be mandated by the state.

A bill to repeal the standard sailed through the Kansas Senate last year but was defeated 77-44 in the House. A vote two months later to gradually phase out the standard by 2021 was much closer. It lost 63-60.

Associated Press: How Climate Has Made the Earth Hotter and Weirder

In the more than two decades since world leaders first got together to try to solve global warming, life on Earth has changed, not just the climate. It's gotten hotter, more polluted with heat-trapping gases, more crowded and just downright wilder.

The numbers are stark. Carbon dioxide emissions: up 60 percent. Global temperature: up six-tenths of a degree. Population: up 1.7 billion people. Sea level: up 3 inches. U.S. extreme weather: up 30 percent. Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica: down 4.9 trillion tons of ice.

"Simply put, we are rapidly remaking the planet and beginning to suffer the consequences," says Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University.

AZ Central: SRP's Proposed Rate Hike Targets New Rooftop-Solar Customers

Salt River Project customers who want to addsolarto their homes could be hit with $50 a month in new fees as part of a rate-hike plan.

The proposal also would raise the average bill for non-solar customers by about $5.

The new solar fees are an attempt to charge for the cost of maintaining the power grid, even from those who generate much of their own electricity.

The proposal mirrors a failed attempt by Arizona Public Service last year to add $50 to $100 in fees on rooftop-solar customers. In that case, state regulators eventually decided on a fee averaging about $5.

Tampa Tribune: Deck Stacked Against Renewable Energy in Florida

Saving energy can be expensive.

That was at least part of the reasoning behind the Public Service Commission’s decision last week to dramatically lower conservation goals for Florida’s four major utility companies.

Programs that offer rebates for installing solar panels or an efficient water heater cost companies such as Duke Energy millions of dollars each year -- and drive up rates for everyone -- while they help only a few households cut down their bills, commissioners said.

But in a state that already lags behind much of the nation in terms of renewable power generation, environmental groups and energy entrepreneurs say the decision reinforces a growing perception that Florida’s government has stacked the deck in favor of old-guard utilities.

CNBC: Is Solar a Threat to Utility Stock Dividends? Not Yet

From the time they were kids, today's retirees have learned the same basics about investing in utilities: They may not grow any faster than the economy, but you can always count on them to pay hefty stock dividends and reliably cover the interest on their bonds.

Now solar power is posing a threat to that basic paradigm -- not big enough to worry seniors already relying in part on utility stocks for income but serious enough that baby boomers and new retirees should keep it in the back of their mind, according to some bond analysts who cover the utility sector.