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Kan. lawmaker, allies push for renewable energy

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 6, 2013 at 8:15 pm •  Published: December 6, 2013

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Policies for promoting renewable energy will be on the Kansas Legislature's agenda next year, but a Democratic lawmaker and a key Republican senator gave dramatically different reasons Friday for why there should be a debate.

Sen. Marci Francisco, a Lawrence Democrat, said she and her allies will push for changes that would encourage more businesses, homeowners and nonprofit groups to install solar panels and other renewable energy technologies to lower or cancel out their electric bills. She said they'll also try to block attacks on a state law requiring utilities to have renewable sources such as wind provide 20 percent of their peak electric generating capacity by 2020.

Francisco said promoting renewable energy is a way to deal with climate changes linked to greenhouse gas emissions, such as those from coal-fired power plants. She had a Statehouse news conference with Rabbi Moti Rieber of Overland Park, who leads a coalition of 45 religious groups concerned about climate change, and Wayne White, a Jefferson County farmer who promotes sustainable agriculture and energy.

"Our climate is changing, and we need Kansas solutions to address it," she said.

Senate Utilities Committee Chairman Pat Apple, a Louisburg Republican, agreed that renewable energy policy will be an issue for lawmakers after they open their 2014 session Jan. 13. But, he said, he wants lawmakers to examine whether such policies are increasing electric rates, particularly for poor Kansans.

"We're going to focus this year on what's driving the cost of these electric rates," Apple said.

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