TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group run by the sister of the chairman of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce sent postcards warning that renewable energy standards have caused higher utility bills, and the chamber denies any involvement.
The Kansas House last week rejected legislation meant to end the state’s renewable energy standards, which require utility companies to get 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020. The chamber and Americans For Prosperity, a group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, pushed for repeal of the standards.
Before the vote, postcards from Kansas Senior Consumer Alliance went out in multiple House districts. They warned the standards were responsible for rate increases and urged Kansans to call their representative, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1fZ2oCC ).
“With the cost of health care, gasoline and even groceries soaring . I CAN’T AFFORD HIGHER UTILITIES BILLS,” the postcard says. Along with pictures of an older man and an older woman looking over her electric bill, the postcard’s text says Kansas has seen 15 rate hikes since the renewable standards were implemented in 2011 and that rates have risen 27 percent in other states with similar standards. It does not cite a source for the information.
The Kansas Corporation Commission, a state agency, found the standards were responsible for about 2.2 percent of the increased cost of electricity.
The return address on the cards sent out in the district of Rep. Don Hineman, a moderate Republican from Dighton who voted against the legislation, belongs to Virginia Crossland-Macha, an Iola conservative activist whose brother is chamber chairman Ivan Crossland.
Chamber spokeswoman Emily Mitchell said she and her colleagues didn’t know about the postcards, adding “it would have nothing to do with us.”
Crossland-Macha said her brother had nothing to do with the postcards, and that she formed the organization to help seniors.
Alan Cobb, the registered lobbyist for the alliance who previously was the state director of Americans for Prosperity and a former Koch Industries lobbyist, said the postcard was “a pretty standard political mailer that we’ve all seen in Kansas a thousand times.”
Current AFP state director Jeff Glendening said AFP and Crossland-Macha’s group did not work together on the postcards. He said the only connection was that they’re both opposed to the renewable energy standards.
Hineman said he felt the objective of the cards was to frighten senior citizens, “get them worried about their utility bills and leave the impression that maybe their representative isn’t representing their interests in that regard. … It really is a political scam.”
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com