Missouri utilities look to Kansas for wind energy

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 | 5:29 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Two Missouri utilities are looking to Kansas companies to help meet carbon dioxide emission targets proposed by a federal agency.

In June, the Environmental Protection Agency released a proposal that offered specific emission targets for each state, the first of which would kick in by 2020. The rule is expected to be finalized next year, but lawsuits challenging the regulation could change its final form.

Empire District Electric Co. and Kansas City Power and Light are utility companies that serve customers in Missouri and Kansas, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Both utilities said Kansas wind turbines could play a major role in helping Missouri meet its EPA-proposed targets. But one of the utilities said that's based on the idea that both states are able and willing to work together.

"If that assumption doesn't follow through, we're going to have challenges just like everyone else," said Paul Ling, Kansas City Power and Light's director of environmental compliance.

The EPA's proposed rule allows for multistate approaches to help meet the emission targets. However, collaboration between Missouri and Kansas would depend on developing a method on how to count wind generation without double-counting it in both states.

State officials could also block cooperation between the southern states. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has opposed the proposed EPA regulations. He said they would "raise the cost of living for every Kansan."

Gov. Jay Nixon's administration and the state's public service commission have been mostly neutral on the federal agency's proposal.

Jennifer Richardson, regional director of government relations for electric grid operator Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc., said cooperation between states could help reduce costs to help meet the emission targets.

"A regional solution is going to be more cost effective than a subregional or state-by-state approach," she said. "Now what that looks like is anyone's guess at this point."

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