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Environmental Protection & Preservation

Environmental, Community Groups Announce Important Energy Agreement with Major Utility

In a groundbreaking agreement that can serve as a model for environmental groups and utilities working together, the Sierra Club, Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L), and the Concerned Citizens of Platte County (CCPC) have agreed on a set of initiatives to offset carbon dioxide (CO2) and reduce other emissions for the Kansas City-based utility. Under the agreement announced today, KCP&L agrees to pursue offsets for all of the global warming emissions associated with its new plant through significant investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, and cut pollution from its existing plants in order to improve air quality in the Greater Kansas City metro area. The agreement proposes other investments in clean energy, significant decreases in emissions and resolves four appeals pending between the Sierra Club, CCPC, and KCP&L. Full implementation of the terms of the agreement will necessitate approval from the appropriate authorities, as some of the initiatives in this agreement require either enabling legislative policy or regulatory approval.

"We believe there is significant potential through new energy technology and innovative approaches to improve the environment and offer additional value to our customers across the Kansas City region. This is especially true with energy efficiency and wind generation, which we have been implementing already through our Comprehensive Energy Plan developed in 2005," said Mike Chesser, Chairman and CEO of Great Plains Energy. "We look forward to collaborating with the Sierra Club and other stakeholders as we pursue these exciting new opportunities."

"This agreement is a win for our climate, for the environment, and for the residents of the Kansas City area," said Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director. "It is the latest sign that smart energy solutions like wind power and energy efficiency are gathering steam. We look forward to working with KCP&L to help the Midwest realize its full potential as a leader in the clean energy technologies that will fuel the economy of tomorrow."

The most significant element of the agreement is the unprecedented commitment by KCP&L to pursue the offset of carbon emissions from its proposed Iatan 2 generating station, located near Weston, Missouri. The estimated 6,000,000 tons of annual carbon dioxide emissions are targeted to be offset by adding 400 megawatts (MW) of wind power; 300 MW of energy efficiency; and a yet to be determined combination of wind, efficiency, or the closing, altering, re-powering or efficiency improvements at any of its generating units. These proposed offsets will be partially implemented by 2010 and fully implemented by 2012. The parties are also agreeing to work together on a series of regulatory and legislative initiatives to achieve an overall reduction in KCP&L's carbon dioxide emissions of 20 percent by 2020.

"This agreement shows that we can work together to curb air pollution, combat global warming, and protect our local communities," said Susan Brown, chairperson for Concerned Citizens of Platte County. "The renewable energy investments in this agreement can revitalize the region's manufacturing economy and offer rural landowners a new source of steady income from wind turbines located on their property. The large investment in energy efficiency will also help everyone use less energy - reducing emissions and saving consumers and businesses money each month."

In addition to offsetting its global warming emissions, residents of the Kansas City area will benefit from reduced emissions of criteria pollutants at KCP&L's existing Iatan 1 and La Cygne plants. The agreement calls for annual reductions in nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter estimated to total some 9,100 tons. Within the next year, KCP&L will also work with the Sierra Club to study options, including retiring, re-powering or upgrading its Montrose power plant. Finally, KCP&L will fund several community projects including: recommendations of the Kansas City Climate Protection Committee targeting global warming reduction measures; additional monitoring of soot and smog pollution in the metro area; and an upgrade to the drinking water infrastructure in Weston, a community near the Iatan station.

In another important step for clean energy, KCP&L will also file for approval of a net metering program within six months. Net metering allows a utility's customers to generate small amounts of renewable energy on-site, such as from rooftop solar panels or a small wind turbine, and sell any excess energy back to the utility.

KCP&L's Comprehensive Energy Plan was collaboratively constructed with a broad group of stakeholders and includes investments in new generation (including renewable wind energy); innovative efficiency, affordability and demand response programs; infrastructure improvements; and proactive environmental investments. This balanced approach will enable KCP&L to satisfy growing energy demands across the region for years to come while improving environmental stewardship.

"KCP&L's current Comprehensive Energy Plan addresses the energy needs and emissions reductions for the Kansas City region with actions into the year 2010. This Agreement is the start of the next set of discussions with stakeholders as we develop our plans for the 2010-2015 timeframe," said Bill Downey, President and CEO of KCP&L. "It reflects the ongoing atmosphere of collaboration we established in developing the CEP, and proactively resolves differences. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to secure a long-term energy supply for Kansas City while improving air quality."

This agreement builds on the success of a 2006 agreement that Sierra Club brokered with City Water Light and Power of Springfield, IL. That agreement stipulated that the municipal utility retire one of the dirtiest coal plants in the nation, purchase 120 MW of wind, invest four million dollars in energy efficiency, and significantly decrease emissions of soot, smog and mercury pollution. In addition, all of the government buildings owned by the state of Illinois are to be powered with green electricity. Last week, CWLP announced that it stands to at least break even and may reap significant profits from its purchase and resale the wind power investments required in their agreement.

"We were and continue to be very pleased with the agreement we reached in Springfield," commented Pope. "Our exciting new agreement with KCP&L raises the bar even further and demonstrates just how much we can achieve when utilities and groups like the Sierra Club work together."

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