Archive for Monday, April 13, 2009

New coal-fired electric plant near Holcomb now off company’s near-term agenda

April 13, 2009


— As Kansas politicians battle over the proposed coal-burning plants, the Colorado-based electricity supplier that has been a major player in pushing for approval has dropped the project from its “near-term” planning, and has announced a greater commitment to renewable energy.

“The delays in permitting the Kansas project make it unlikely to be available in the near-term,” said Ken Anderson, who is executive vice president and general manager of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

“If a project is eventually permitted, it would remain an option for our long-term resource needs,” Anderson said.

In 2005, Tri-State announced a plan to buy power from two 700-megawatt coal-fired plants that Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. proposed building near Holcomb.

But in 2007, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Rod Bremby blocked Sunflower’s proposal over concerns about potential carbon dioxide emissions and global warming.

That decision has sparked an ongoing political standoff in Kansas..

Sunflower Electric has succeeded in getting the Legislature to approve bills that would require the permits to be granted, but Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has vetoed those efforts. Another bill has been sent to her desk, and she has indicated she again will veto it.

Last week, Tri-State’s board said it would review its plans for coal-based power and focus more on renewable energy, natural gas and energy efficiency to meet the needs of 1.4 million customers in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

Several Tri-State customers and environmentalists in Colorado said Tri-State’s decision represented a major turn away from coal-based power.

"We applaud Tri-State for taking this step, for recognizing that renewable energy and more efficient energy use are core components of sound resource planning and good for customers," said John Nielsen, energy project director for Western Resource Advocates.

But Sunflower Electric officials said Tri-State remains committed to the Kansas project.

“They’re doing what everyone else is doing and that is looking at their options,” said Cindy Hertel, a spokeswoman for Sunflower Electric.

Tri-State’s Anderson said ongoing uncertainty in both state and federal policies, and the economic downturn prompted the association to re-evaluate its long-term strategy and how coal-based generating units fit into that plan.

“Significant changes in the regulatory climate and economy impact development projects and have disproportionately affected the near-term outlook for coal-based resources,” said Anderson.

As part of its near-term planning, Tri-State said it will expand its resources by:

-- Contracting for 220-megawatts of natural gas-based capacity in eastern Colorado.

-- Developing a 30-megawatt solar plant in New Mexico.

-- Incent community-based renewable energy projects.

-- Enhance energy efficiency including incentives for customers to buy ENERGY Star-rated appliances.

-- Commissioning a study on further energy efficiency savings.


WilburM 9 years, 2 months ago

Tri-State apparently gets religion. Pols and others worshiping at the altar of coal remain totally silent. Interesting.

tolawdjk 9 years, 2 months ago

I fail to see how Tri-States new short terms equals the removed Holcomb plant that apparently was previously short term.

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 2 months ago

When their customers lack adequate energy and the lights turn off they'll be asking hard questions.

KansasVoter 9 years, 2 months ago

Those customers won't be Kansans, so I don't care what questions they ask.

Kryptenx 9 years, 2 months ago

Keith: You obviously trust Sunflower Electric when they tell you that building coal plants will be good for Kansas. Why do you suddenly not trust their judgment when they look beyond the coal plants?

KansasVoter: I second that perspective.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 2 months ago

On past threads discussing this topic I have mentioned that Tri-State was going to be facing problems within the state of Colorado such as a state renewable portfolio standard and increased regulatory scrutiny. The first event has occurred and the second one is gaining steam. Also noted was pending climate regulation on the federal level that Tri-State grudgingly has admitted will change there focus on coal despite being a member of Western Fuels, which owns coal interests in Wyoming. In order for Tri-State to re-embrace the Sunflower project, there would have to be a state and federal regulatory about-face and that is not going to happen. Tri-State is now in the position of having to exit a contract with Sunflower in which it has given SF a decent chunk of change. Ironically the easiest exit would be if the governor's veto is not overridden......

lounger 9 years, 2 months ago

Go away forever TRi-State generation....

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