Archive for Thursday, January 15, 2009

Renewable energy proposals deserving despite coal debate

January 15, 2009

The memory of last summer’s fuel and energy price spikes has made long-promised comprehensive energy policies one of the issues in vouge. President-elect Barack Obama has promised such a policy. In Kansas, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius offered her plan last week.

Among the plan’s details are incentives to install solar panels and wind generators, commit the state to produce 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and provide financial incentives for companies manufacturing renewable energy components that are located in Kansas. It would also allow consumers producing renewable energy from wind generators to sell back their excess electricity to energy producers.

All this is sound policy in a state with plentiful sunshine and what is said to be the third-best potential in country to produce wind generated electricity.

But, of course, legislators and the solid Republican majorities in both houses have its own views on energy policy. And among them is a far different view of coal’s place in the state’s energy future. It is hard not to share the Republicans view that there is a place for expanded coal generation in the state. Their apprehensions about thoroughly embracing what are now more expensive energy producing alternatives over what is a proven source, no matter its environmental downside, are understandable as well.

But no matter how the coal question shakes out, it would be hoped an energy policy with a real stick and carrot approach to alternative energy sources emerges. Whether one believes the rosy job-creation numbers greater alternative energy use , it is clear it is a growth industry that would fit well with the state’s natural resources of sun and wind. The governor's renewable energy proposals gives the state the chance of experiencing gain with the pain of a continuing energy crisis.

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