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House passes energy bills; more in wings  

The Kansas House passed three bills Monday in response to Kansans’ growing demand for electricity coupled with some legislators’ emerging concern about global warming.

The measures contain tax incentives for expansion of nuclear power and for landlords who add energy efficiency to rental units.

A third bill aims to encourage renewable sources of electricity, particularly wind power, by offering exemptions from some site requirements on new high-voltage transmission lines that run power between the east and west sides of the state.

The bills now go to the Senate for consideration.

Rep. Tom Hawk, D-Manhattan, pushed House Bill 2037, the energy efficiency bill that would give landlords a $300 sales tax break per rental unit on any new household appliances that meet state energy efficiency standards.

The measure also would offer a $100 break per rental when a landlord installs energy-efficient insulation.

“I think people realize the biggest bang for the buck is conservation,” Hawk said after House members passed the bill, 122-0.

“This bill definitely sends a message that we’re interested in energy conservation in this state,” said House Energy and Utilities Chairman Carl Holmes, R-Liberal.

The measure is a step toward addressing Kansas’ low ranking among states for its lack of energy conservation programs. Another bill pending in Senate Utilities Committee would require electric and natural gas companies in Kansas to provide energy conservation education to customers.

Another energy bill faced some opposition in its passage Monday. The measure offering a property tax exemption for any new nuclear generating facility built near the current Wolf Creek nuclear power station drew opposition from several Democrats who wanted to make it contingent upon disposal of the radioactive waste.

If a company does not designate a permanent waste site, the tax incentive shouldn’t apply, said Rep. Josh Svaty, D-Ellsworth.

Currently no long-term waste disposal facility exists in the country.

However, the measure, House Bill 2038, passed 95-28 without a waste provision.

Holmes said the state must prepare to add more power sources that don’t emit greenhouse gases.

“This sends the message that nuclear power has to be a part of the mix for future energy, especially when you take into consideration global warming,” Holmes said after the vote.

He said lawmakers would soon be reviewing another bill on the issue of global warming. It would give tax incentives to those who sequester carbon dioxide generated from factories, power plants and other industry in the state.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which most scientists agree is causing global climate change, would be captured and injected into underground reservoirs, such as old natural gas fields.

“Any man-made C02 would qualify,” Holmes said.

The House also passed the transmission siting measure, House Bill 2066, on a 122-0 vote. It would allow transmission facility owners, with state regulators’ approval, to extend lines across the certified territory of retail electric utilities.

The bill is moving through the Legislature just as the Kansas Electric Transmission Authority prepares to contract for a transmission study from the Southwest Power Pool, an organization that oversees regional power grid planning.

The study, to be completed later this spring, would identify a route for new east-west transmission, said Holmes, who is the authority’s chairman.

The authority expects to designate who will build the new transmission by sometime this summer.

02/06/2007; 02:39:18 AM

By Sarah Kessinger

Harris News Service



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