The Richmond Register

Local News

November 7, 2009

Local group joins protest of coal-burning power plant

BEREA — The Berea-based Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF), along with several other non-profit organizations and rural electric co-op members, petitioned the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) on Wednesday, asking it to review and revoke the certificate of public convenience and necessity for the coal-burning Smith 1 power plant proposed by the East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC).

If approved, the plant will be built on the Kentucky River in Clark County, just across from Madison County. Blue Grass Energy and Clark Energy customers in Madison County would receive their electricity from the plant.

“The right decision for EKPC is to abandon their Smith 1 project and invest instead in a robust strategy of helping their customers become more energy efficient and investing in clean energy sources,” said Madison County resident and Blue Grass Energy customer Mike Hannon.

“According to recent analyses, taking this approach would cost (customers) less over a 20-year period than building and operating the Smith plant. In addition clean energy strategies will create good jobs in all 87 counties served by EKPC’s rural co-ops.”

In 2006, the Kentucky Public Service Commission approved EKPC’s plan to build the proposed coal-burning power plant. EKPC stated then that the plant was needed to meet anticipated expansion in its customer base.

That growth never happened, according to an Oct. 29 statement released on behalf of KEF, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and the Sierra Club.

In 2007, when the PSC renewed its approval of the Smith plant, the commissioners included cautionary language noting that EKPC may not need the electricity from the plant, the opposition groups pointed out.

The PSC is charged with overseeing the activities of electric utilities in Kentucky.

To protect coop ratepayers, the plaintiffs contend that the PSC should revoke the certificate for the Smith plant.

“Fortunately, revoking the certificate for the Smith plant would not prevent EKPC from providing electricity to its members,” said Berea resident Elizabeth Crowe, KEF executive director. “There are many new funding mechanisms for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs now that did not exist in 2006. EKPC could pursue these channels more aggressively and, with help from the PSC, help its members by shifting to clean, affordable energy solutions.”

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