Report on Tri-State's coal plans ( .PDF )
Topeka — President-elect Barack Obama's stated goal of cutting climate changing carbon-dioxide emissions is just another reason that a proposal to build two 700-megawatt coal-burning power plants in southwest Kansas makes no sense, a group of environmentalists said Monday.
"The writing is very clearly written on the wall: Things are going to be done to regulate the emission of global warming" gases, said Tony Frank, renewable energy director for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. "That doesn't bode well for utilities that heavily rely on coal," he said.
Frank and representatives of several other groups held a news conference via telephone to unveil a new report on the coal-burning project proposed by Colorado-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, and Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp.
The report states that the project faces regulatory and economic problems that will increase the cost of electricity and, therefore, hurt ratepayers.
"Current and future regulatory scenarios will undoubtedly add additional costs to coal-fired electricity and will hamper Tri-State's ability to deliver a cost-based electricity supply to its member owners," the report states.
The study was done by Innovest Strategic Value Advisors on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group that supports renewable resources.
Tri-State spokesman Lee Boughey disagreed with the report, saying that Tri-State analyzed its risks and still thinks the project is doable and needed.
He said as Obama and the Congress work on energy and climate policy, Tri-State would be "working to ensure that those policies ensure that electricity remains reliable and affordable and we as country continue to invest in new technologies."
Boughey added, "The bottom line is Tri-State looks at all the risks, including potential financial and regulatory risks associated with carbon regulations. We also look at not having enough energy to meet growing demands."
Tri-State has partnered with Sunflower Electric to build the plants near Holcomb. Under the proposal, 85 percent of the electricity would go to customers in Colorado and Texas.
The project was rejected by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' administration, citing environmental and health concerns because of the plants' proposed emissions of 11 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. State lawmakers passed several bills designed to overturn the decision. But each time, Sebelius vetoed the legislation and lawmakers were unable to override her vetoes.
Project supporters continue to fight for approval in administrative, legal and legislative arenas.