Home / News / Local / Lee’s Summit state senator gets award for clean energy but doubts remain about what’s really clean

Lee’s Summit state senator gets award for clean energy but doubts remain about what’s really clean

Republican state Sen. Mike Cierpiot of Lee’s Summit is backing efforts to make Missouri energy so-called “carbon-neutral” over the next several decades.

Cierpiot and Michelle Pleus, his chief of staff, were honored by the huge energy company Evergy for their role in helping utility companies meet controversial goals outlined by the United Nations and the Biden administration. Pleus served as lobbyist for the Missouri Energy Development Association before joining Cierpiot’s staff.

The award comes as Evergy postpones plans to close a major Kansas coal plant because there’s not enough energy available to make up the difference and there may not be for decades.

The plan is controversial because “clean energy,” as it is described by those on the left and media outlets, uses alternative means of energy production that also have significant impacts on the environment. Green energy actually uses fossil fuels for production of its equipment often requires fossil fuels in remote areas. For example, across the nation, charging stations for electric cars are often fueled by diesel generators. Wind turbines and solar panels use precious metals that are mined around the world, leaving the land scarred. They are most often obtained in countries with high poverty rates and the extraction has not been shown to benefit the poor.

But energy companies are pushing ahead, often pressured by regulations and lobbyists.

Cierpiot sponsored a bill that would allow utility companies to issue bonds to finance energy transition costs if approved by the Missouri Public Service Commission”. The measure progressed through the upper chamber with little opposition and made it onto the governor’s desk as part of an omnibus utility bill signed into law in July.

“We were proud to be honored; it was a collaborative effort getting the bill passed, and Michelle did amazing work,” Cierpiot said. “It will help utility companies, and it was great to get it across the finish line in its first year.”

Pleus, using her skills as a former energy lobbyist, helped shepherd the complex language through the upper chamber the initial year it was proposed in the legislature.

“It was awesome to get it there and pass it in its first year after all the work we put in,” she said. “It was my first time fighting for an issue in this role, and it was huge to get it done. I love my job, and it’s just icing on the cake to receive an award for it.”

Evergy Power PAC’s Friend of the Grid award is presented every year to legislators and staff who have worked on energy-friendly legislation. Evergy President and CEO David Campbell presented the award to Cierpiot and Pleus last week.

Evergy, which established its goal for net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 earlier this year before the commission, backed the legislative effort to encourage utilities to make the switch to “clean” generation.

But the company is finding that awards and grand green energy announcements are a lot easier than doing away with fossil fuels.

In September, it walked back an earlier announcement that it would close a Kansas coal plant by 2023 and build 700 megawatts of solar capacity by 2024.

Evergy, is now proposing to keep one unit of the power plant open as a natural gas peaker while scaling back its solar plans.

Evergy spokesperson Gina Penzig said the company decided it needed to postpone some solar projects because some of them “are less mature in their development and lacked clear cost and timing aspects related to land control and interconnection of the solar generation to the transmission system.

“In addition, the solar supply chain faces some unique constraints.”

But the problems in Kansas have not deterred the company with its Missouri plans even as Missouri energy costs skyrocket for consumers.

Evergy closed a Missouri coal plant in 2019 which, according to many, increased costs. Many continue to fear that clean energy will lead to energy shortages and higher rates for residents of Lee’s Summit and everyone else in the state.

There’s no award for that.

–Metro Voice