PSC OK's purchase of power from Hazard biomass plant

The Kentucky Public Service Commission on Thursday approved a 20-year contract to let Kentucky Power Co. buy electricity from a biomass-fueled plant near Hazard, even though the power will be more expensive than other sources.

The 58.5-megawatt ecoPower Generation-Hazard LLC biomass plant will burn various wood wastes and low-quality timber. Construction of the plant will employ 230 people for two years; it is scheduled to go online in 2017. The plant will employ 30 people and create an additional 225 jobs for loggers and truckers, according to the PSC.

The new plant "promotes the inducement of an innovative energy-related business located in Kentucky that would advance the public purposes of achieving energy independence, creating new jobs and new investment, and creating new sources of tax revenues," the PSC said in its order.

Kentucky Power estimates that the biomass contract will increase total monthly bills for its customers by 5.99 percent in the first year that ecoPower is in operation, according to the PSC.