Evergy’s Energy Plan Keeps Customers On The Hook For Coal For Another Generation- CleanAirNow Statement

Evergy’s Energy Plan Keeps Customers On The Hook For Coal For Another Generation

Friday, April 30, 2021

Edward Smith, edward.smith@sierraclub.org

Kansas City, MO — Evergy, the largest electric utility in Kansas and the second largest in Missouri, filed its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) with Missouri regulators today. The good news is the utility proposes 3,200 megawatts of solar by 2032 and 1,000 megawatts of wind power by 2026. The utility also proposes to close the 66-year-old Lawrence coal plant by 2023 and Jeffrey Unit 3 by 2030. The bad news is that Evergy plans to burn coal at several facilities until 2039 and beyond 2040, including at Hawthorn and Iatan Unit 2.

Sierra Club has elevated the devastating financial, environmental, and health impacts of Evergy’s coal plants for years. Evergy received a ‘F’ in Sierra Club’s Dirty Truth About Utility Climate Pledges report, which evaluated utilities on how their energy choices will impact the climate crisis. In 2019, Sierra Club released a report finding that Evergy’s Kansas coal fleet lost $267 million from 2015 through 2018 and that, “Evergy’s La Cygne and Jeffrey plants combined are expected to lose $847 million over the next 20 years,” among other findings. Evergy’s customers in both Missouri and Kansas will have to pay for expensive coal plants in Kansas.

An IRP is mandated every three years by the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC), which regulates monopoly utilities like Evergy, to forecast how the utility will meet its energy demand over the next twenty years. Evergy will file its first ever IRP with Kansas regulators in the coming weeks. Sierra Club previously advocated for the IRP during the merger of KCP&L and Westar that formed Evergy in 2018.

Sierra Club is a member of Build Power Mo-Kan, an energy justice coalition working collaboratively to expand renewable energy and access to weatherization and assistance programs while holding electric utilities in Western Missouri and Kansas accountable to the needs of their customers. Content on the Build Power Mo-Kan website is available in English and Spanish.

Statement from Beto Lugo Martinez, Executive Director of CleanAirNow:  

“Although today’s announcement is a win for the community living closest to the Lawrence coal plant, other poor communities near Evergy’s coal plants will continue to be disproportionately burdened with high energy bills, toxic air, and water pollution. Evergy’s ‘net-zero’ future is not good enough. The utility needs to invest in clean energy that promotes zero emissions. ‘Net-zero’ has become a buzz word used by polluting industries to disguise climate inaction and in some cases scale up the burning of fossil fuels.”

Statement from Andy Knott, Deputy Regional Director for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign:

“Evergy’s plan falls short of the action needed to mitigate the worst consequences of the climate crisis. While the new investments in renewable energy are important, it’s unfortunate that Evergy is proposing to continue operating 80 percent of its coal fleet beyond 2030, a decision that is wildly inconsistent with a low-cost grid and necessary action to achieve climate progress. The continued operation of Evergy’s Kansas coal plants is actually going to cost customers in both states more, not less, according to publicly available data reviewed by Sierra Club. We call on Evergy to ensure that its new clean energy investments support communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Clean energy can reduce air pollution and lower bills.

“Evergy’s energy plan should not overshadow the fact that the utility will start disconnecting power from customers behind on their bills next week, even though the economic recovery has been uneven for a lot of people. It’s not too late for Evergy to extend its disconnection moratorium so struggling customers don’t have to fear losing power while recovering from the devastating effects of the pandemic.”

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person’s right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.