Massive EV Battery Factory May Have To Rely On Coal Plant For It To Function
Nick Pope | Daily Caller News Foundation
October 2, 2023
An electric battery factory in Kansas may use so much energy that a local power plant might not be able to stop burning coal as quickly as planned, according to multiple reports.
Panasonic, a Japanese technology company, is building a massive electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in De Soto, Kansas, that could consume enough energy to power a small city, according to Cowboy State Daily. The facility, which could receive billions in federal subsidies, could use so much electricity to produce EVs that Evergy, the local utility company, will have to build new infrastructure and could raise rates to pay for it, according to The Kansas City Star.
Evergy announced in April that it would ask the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) to raise utility rates by 5.9% in some regions of the state and by as much as 24.9% in an area including the cities of Topeka and Wichita as well as other parts of Johnson County, according to The Kansas City Star. In order to ensure that Evergy is ready to meet all demand at all times, the company will continue to burn coal at a power plant near Lawrence, Kansas, a move that will delay that facility’s transition to cleaner natural gas, according to Cowboy State Daily.
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“Overall, given that the investment is still an estimate and given the magnitude of the estimated load additions, it is not evident to Staff that the addition of Panasonic is actually going to necessitate an increase in rates,” Andria N. Jackson, a member of the KCC, said of the request in August, according to The Kansas City Star. In testimony to the KCC, an Evergy employee cautioned that the Panasonic facility could create “near term challenges from a resource adequacy perspective,” according to The Kansas City Star.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited the factory’s construction site in February, saying that “it’s so impressive to see how the right kind of community, intentionality, and the right kind of infrastructure, can get you major, major results,” according to KMBC 9. “I would’ve loved in my mayor days to have a $4 billion piece of good news. So, you are the envy of a lot of communities.”
The Panasonic plant could eventually net $6.8 billion from the federal government via the Inflation Reduction Act, President Joe Biden’s signature climate bill, according to Cowboy State Daily. The factory itself is estimated to cost about $4 billion to build, according to Fox 4 Kansas City.
“Panasonic Energy chose to develop our EV battery facility in Kansas because of its talented workforce, diverse energy resources, and potential for economic growth—including the development of new renewable energy resources,” a company spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “While almost half of the energy in the region comes from zero-emission wind, solar, and nuclear power, we recognize that other resources are required in the near term to enable rapid growth,” the spokesperson continued, adding that “building the next generation of electric vehicles and other clean technologies will require increased power generation” and “over time, inefficient coal plants will be retired and more zero-carbon energy will be built to meet this demand.”
Evergy, the KCC, the Department of Energy and the White House all did not respond immediately to requests for comment.