Clark County

Environmentalists say costs are too high for new plant

A group of Kentucky environmentalists unveiled a new report on Tuesday disputing East Kentucky Power Cooperative's need for a new coal-fired power plant.

Members of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and the Cumberland Chapter of the Sierra Club said the plan for a new facility in Clark County is bad both for the environment and the co-op's struggling finances.

The co-op, which has raised the price of its service each of the past three years, provides electricity to 16 member co-ops that power more than half a million homes, farms and businesses in Central and Eastern Kentucky.

The groups commissioned a study by a New York-based public policy and financial consulting firm that recommended the project be abandoned in favor of enhanced energy efficiency programs, renewable energy sources and natural gas.

"This case is a business and finance case," said Tom Sanzillo of TR Rose Associates prior to unveiling his findings.

He said East Kentucky Power produces about 97 percent of its electricity by burning coal in contrast to a general measure of around 50 percent for other utilities nationally.

Abandoning plans for another coal-fired power plant, which would be the first such generator at East Kentucky Power's Smith property in Clark County, would save around $500 million in long-term debt, he said.

East Kentucky Power spokesman Nick Comer could not be immediately reached on Tuesday.

The co-op has said it is dedicated to energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy, but those are not yet able to meet the demand from its customer base.

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