Generating energy from burning fossil fuels has long polluted our skies with toxic pollutants, poisoned our water, and lead to health impacts in our communities such as increased risk of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and other health problems. While the benefits of renewable energy generation continue to grow, Evergy continues to operate its costly coal fired power plants while passing on the expenses to the ratepayers. Between January 2019 and September 2020 Evergy lost $121 million by operating their coal plants relative to market energy pricing. Even worse, it is estimated that over the next two decades the Evergy owned La Cygne and Jeffrey coal plants will cost ratepayers $847 million compared to the energy market price.
As environmental regulations continue to tighten, the necessary emissions control equipment at coal plants continues to drive rate increases. Now, electricity prices in Kansas are one of the highest in the region and Evergy has still not announced a plan to close its remaining coal plants despite Kansas having potential for some of the cheapest solar and wind energy in the country.
Beyond just the economic impacts of operating Evergy’s coal plants, the health of our communities continues to be placed at risk. Air pollution from Evergy’s Kansas coal plants are responsible for nearly 20 premature deaths and over 100 asthma attacks a year. Throughout the Midwest, Black and low-income people face the highest risk for death from power plants’ fine particulate pollution. Evergy is poisoning Kansans and passing off the increasing operating costs to them. These high energy prices have resulted in nearly 25% of households foregoing basic household needs in order to pay their electric bill.
The United States has finally reached the “coal cost crossover“, meaning that existing coal is more expensive than renewable energy. It is time the Evergy announce a plan to just transition of electricity generation from coal to 100% renewable energy. This must be done immediately if we are to meet basic climate targets.
CleanAirNow demands Evergy commit to shutting down its coal plants and keep fossil fuels in the ground. Evergy also needs to commit to investing in clean renewables such as solar and wind generated energy and provide transitional training to their employees to prepare them for the inevitable Fossil Fuel Free Future. We are calling on our allies and all of Lawrence to join us in demanding Evergy to shut down their coal plants and to let everyone know it’s time to stop burning coal in Kansas!