Agreement allows new Mo. power plant

? An agreement between Kansas City Power & Light and two other groups will allow the construction of a coal-fired plant near Weston, while also requiring the utility to make some environmentally friendly changes, the groups announced Tuesday.

Among other things, the deal requires KCP&L to build wind farms and use new technology to make its power plants among the nation’s cleanest.

The Sierra Club of Missouri and Kansas and the Concerned Citizens of Platte County said they will drop their battle against the construction of the plant near Weston, 25 miles northwest of Kansas City.

The Sierra Club estimated the deal could cost KCP&L hundreds of millions of dollars, but the utility would not discuss possible cost because the government will have to approve parts of the plan.

The new settlement would require KCP&L to:

¢ Add 400 megawatts of wind energy, although sites for the new wind turbines haven’t been determined. The utility, which has a 100-megawatt wind farm near Spearville in southwestern Kansas, will build the new wind farms by 2012.

¢ Create 300 megawatts of energy efficiency by encouraging conservation and working with businesses and communities to lower their electricity use.

¢ Reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020, including emissions from the new plant. Carbon dioxide is considered a key cause of global warming.

¢ Decrease emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, major contributors to ozone, and other pollutants at the existing and new plants, called Iatan 1 and 2, and at two units at the La Cygne plant.

¢ Conduct a study of its Montrose plant in west-central Missouri with the Sierra Club to determine whether to close it or install antipollution controls there.

¢ Implement “net-metering” in the utility’s service area, which would allow residents to generate small amounts of electricity from solar panels and wind turbines and sell excess energy to the utility.

¢ Finance several community projects to reduce greenhouse gases.

The projects include three more air-quality monitors for the region, upgrading the drinking-water infrastructure in Weston and creating a left-turn lane near the Iatan plants to help motorists avoid coal trains.

Bill Downey, president and chief executive officer of KCP&L, said utility officials were meeting with political leaders in Kansas and Missouri to discuss several of the issues in the agreement.

“Finding collaborative solutions is something we started back in 2004,” Downey said. “We felt getting into this kind of discussion and bringing Sierra Club into it would be more productive than waging specific legal battles and winding up with partial solutions.”

Bruce Nilles, attorney and official with the Sierra Club, called the settlement significant and predicted it would influence other utilities to react to global warming.

“KCP&L has raised the bar, and it will be impossible for any other responsible utility to ignore global warming,” Nilles said.

The Sierra Club hopes the agreement will create enough wind power and reduce demand for power enough to make additional coal-fired plants unnecessary.

Susan Brown of the Concerned Citizens of Platte County said she was excited.

“I never contended they were evil,” Brown said. “They were just working in a system that was backward and encouraged people to use and use and use more electricity.”

Construction has begun on the 850-megawatt Iatan 2 plant, which is expected to cost $1 billion, but it has been delayed by legal action since 2001.