BY ZACK PISTORA, Kansas Chapter Lobbyist
Public comments from Kansans last month demonstrated overwhelming support for saving energy and lowering bills. Sierra Club members offered 180 of the more than 250 public comments to the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) on energy efficiency programs from Evergy, the state's largest electric utility. Only a handful of comments were labeled "opposed," amd several of them expressed opposition to increased rates/fees and/or thought Evergy should improve their proposal. No one claimed that energy efficiency measures were insignificant.
The Kansas Sierra Club strongly believes that intelligently- designed and implemented energy efficiency programs can save energy, lower rates, lessen pollution, improve reliability of the electrical grid, and reduce the burden for low- and fixed-income households. KCC Commissioners heard these points loud and clear in at their public hearing and in written comments.
Here are some of the comments:
“Energy efficiency benefits everyone, and is crucial to moving forward as a healthy state! Close coal, lower bills, and increase energy efficiency investments!” Maureen Kenny – Leawood
“Energy efficiency programs are offered by most other utilities in the country and are the most reliable, affordable energy supply available. Kansas has been deprived of that good service for too long, and Evergy should be obligated to invest in the efficiency programs needed to catch up. Energy efficiency is the most affordable, safest, and cleanest way to meet energy demand. Evergy needs to triple its energy efficiency goals because tens of thousands of Kansans shouldn’t be involuntarily disconnected from their power every year as energy bills increase faster than income for many families.” Lindsey Morrow – Roeland Park
“Not only will they help save energy and money, but they will create jobs, increase business and prevent having to build more generation plants in the future.” Sheri Chase Jones – Lansing
“Many studies show that efficiency investments provide higher payback than new energy generation. Please approve Evergy’s proven, cost-effective programs to save Kansan’s money and pollution.” Bill Blessing – Leawood
“As a former school district energy manager and now a director of one of the largest industrial sites in the world, energy efficiency and sustainable power supply is key to successful economies. I applaud Evergy for bringing the efficiency programs to Kansas which have been proven successful in other areas of the united states. One of the easiest ways to put money back in the pockets of Evergy’s residential and business customers is to educate them about their energy usage. Energy is a resource and successful conservation efforts help individual users and the entire electrical grid.” Brad Reams – Parsons
“Investment in energy efficiency is the simplest and most cost-effective way to impact both the burden of utility costs on low-income customers and mitigate the effects of emissions locally and globally. Compared to neighboring states, Kansas customers have been left out of these programs and consequently haven't had access to incentives to take advantage of advances in technology or make weatherization improvements. It's time for Kansas to catch up and finally utilize KEEIA for the benefit of all Kansans.” Brian Alferman – Overland Park
“I’m all for programs that will save me money on my utility bills.” Alan Rhodes – Wichita
“These programs have been extremely successful in other states as they assist with reducing demand and lowering customer utility bills through energy savings. Energy efficiency and demand programs will also have a positive environmental impact through reduced emissions and a lower need for peaker plants during high demand times. As a Kansas resident, I support the approval of this portfolio.” Laura Sagan – Merriam
“As Evergy makes hundreds of millions of dollars in annual profits and receives a generous rate of return on investment, the KCC needs to ensure that our public utility deploy energy efficiency, especially when its commonly understood that energy efficiency is the lowest levelized cost and cleanest energy form.” Zack Pistora – Linwood
“To tackle climate change we have to get to an all electric energy system based on solar, wind and hydro sources. A significant part of the effort is to improve energy efficiency throughout the grid. As an engineer involved with sustainability, I applaud the efforts of Evergy to promote and support all energy efficiency programs. They are essential to our future. They are also vital for the consumer to adapt energy efficiency to save money and derive the benefits of a more efficient economy.” Chilton McLaughlin – Paola
“Demand-side management programs stimulate jobs, and businesses, and promote a cleaner environment all while lowering customers' energy consumption and utility costs. Cities, counties, and states also benefit from increased tax revenues. This is a win-win-win scenario.” Stephen Frank - Shawnee
“It's more urgent than ever that we make significant strides in the direction of energy efficiency-- to reduce the strain on our grid and the burden on consumers' finances. I am so glad that Evergy has filed an energy efficiency portfolio. My comments are to urge you to make sure these programs are more accessible and invested equitably. We know Kansas has a long way to go on energy efficiency, and these initial steps should not only advance energy sustainability, but also make progress equitably.” Melinda Lewis – Prairie Village
“Energy efficiency and conservation offer us the cheapest and safest ways to deal with the demand side of the energy equation. Fortunately, I have the resources to make changes that have resulted in reducing my own energy needs and costs. I support improved efficiency programs increased in scale and scope, which could help others do the same, especially low-income communities, and help eliminate fossil fuels.” Elaine Giessel – Overland Park
What happens next? Parties to the regulatory docket will enter into settlement negotiations to see if consensus can be reached regarding Evergy’s proposal. KCC Commissioners will approve or deny all or parts of Evergy’s proposal later this fall.