A Lexington company hopes to begin construction by the end of the year on a plant in Perry County that would burn wood to generate electricity.
There are several steps that ecoPower Generation LLC will have to complete first, however. Those include getting approval from air-quality regulators and a state board that oversees the siting of such plants.
The company has asked that board for a permit to build the plant on 125 acres in Coal Fields Regional Industrial Park north of Hazard, the board announced Monday.
In addition, ecoPower Generation has applied for a permit covering emissions from the plant, said Gary T. Crawford, the company's chief executive.
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The plant would be an independent power producer, also called a merchant plant. That means it would sell power on the wholesale market to electricity distributors, rather than supply homes and businesses directly. It would be a small plant, producing enough electricity to supply the equivalent of 30,000 homes, said Crawford, a former executive with East Kentucky Power Cooperative.
According to the company's application, it would take two to three years to build the plant, which will cost more than $150 million and employ 40 people full-time when in full operation.
Low-grade logs and wood waste would be burned at the plant to produce power. EcoPower Generation is a sister company of Pine Mountain Lumber, a hardwood producer that would supply 25 percent or more of the wood burned at the Perry County plant.
The state has approved the plant for as much as $15 million in tax incentives if it creates jobs as proposed.
EcoPower Generation's application is the first in five years to the Kentucky State Board on Electric Generation and Transmission Siting.
The legislature created that board in 2002 to review requests to build merchant plants because they don't fall under the purview of the state Public Service Commission.
The board has issued permits for five coal-fired merchant plants, but only one has been built. That one was part of a much larger plant.
EcoPower Generation's proposal is the first for a wood-fired merchant plant in the state.
The siting board now has 120 days to decide whether to approve the application. People who want to intervene in the case or request a formal hearing or a local hearing have until March 22 to do so.
Those requests must be made in writing to Kentucky State Board on Electric Generation and Transmission Siting, 211 Sower Boulevard, P.O. Box 615, Frankfort, Ky. 40602.