Archive for Monday, February 9, 2009

Colo. power company interested in Sunflower coal plants looking at how it could be more efficient

February 9, 2009


— The Colorado company wanting to build a coal-burning power plant in southwest Kansas has reached a settlement with an environmental advocacy group that will result in an extensive study on how the company could be more energy efficient.

The agreement between Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and Environment Colorado could affect plans to build future plants, according to an official with Environment Colorado.

“This study can help serve as a road map for Tri-State to increase the energy efficiency of homes, businesses, farms and ranches in rural Colorado,” said Keith Hay, energy advocate at Environment Colorado. “As a result, Environment Colorado believes Tri-State can save money for their consumer-owners and reduce the need for new energy-generation facilities.”

Tri-State is the main partner with Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. in the proposal to build two 700-megawatt coal-burning plants near Holcomb. Under the plan, Tri-State will own one plant and Sunflower and Texas-based Golden Spread Electric Cooperative Inc. will own the other. About 85 percent of the power produced by the project will be sent to out-of-state customers.

Lee Boughey, a spokesman for Tri-State, said the company remains committed to the Holcomb project.

He said the energy-efficiency study will help Tri-State, whose member cooperatives’ energy requirements have grown an average of 4 percent annually over the past 10 years.

“In addition to efficiency, our cooperatives remain committed to a balance of new renewable and conventional projects, including the Holcomb Station expansion, to meet their long-term resource needs,” he said.

The Holcomb project has been in limbo. In 2007, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby rejected permits for the project, citing the health and environmental impact of the plants’ annual emission of 11 million tons of carbon dioxide.

In 2008, state lawmakers approved three bills that would have required construction of the plants, but Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed each of the measures and the Legislature was unable to muster a two-thirds majority to overturn the vetoes.

Sunflower Electric and Tri-State have challenged the permit denials in federal and state court, and are back before the Legislature this session pushing for another showdown.

Meanwhile in Colorado, Tri-State has been laying the foundation for possibly building a new power plant, perhaps even a nuclear facility, in southeastern Colorado.

It had been challenged by Environment Colorado in a dispute over changing water usage, but the environmental group withdrew its lawsuit in exchange for Tri-State’s agreement to work in a far-reaching energy-efficiency study, which will be completed by February 2010. Tri-State supplies wholesale power to cooperatives in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Nebraska that serve about 1.4 million people.


average 9 years, 4 months ago

'Efficiency' would suggest siting power plants near their primary demand, to reduce transmission losses. Obviously, in some circumstances (hydroelectric) long-distance transmission is necessary.I'm not necessarily saying we should or shouldn't generate the power front-range Colorado is too prissy to generate. But, 'efficiency' would say, somewhere near front-range Colorado, and preferably somewhere with adequate water resources. Talking 'efficiency' in this situation, with 10%+ transmission loss due to politics, is ridiculous.

spankyandcranky 9 years, 4 months ago

So let me make sure I understand this correctly. It seems, that although the plants, and the toxins they produce will be in Kansas, we won't be owning or profitting from them (except for perhaps in job positions available)? And 85% of the energy produced will go to other states? Remind me, why would Kansans be for this, again?

hipper_than_hip 9 years, 4 months ago

Natural gas is too precious to use for electricity production. If people could reduce the amount of electricity they use, then new generation wouldn't be as necessary.

billbodiggens 9 years, 4 months ago

KDHE issued a guide today which says that CO2 will only be addressed in new plants. The old plants are home free. Seems to be a good way to ensure the old plants stay in producrtion with all their filth and emmissions and the new plants cannot even get started. So, Topeka and Lawrence, your filthy plants north of town will continue while you cast your scorn on the rest of the state. Nice. Real Nice.

average 9 years, 4 months ago

spankyandcranky -A lot of Capitol types really envy Mississippi and Louisiana. They believe that, if they encourage anything-goes, where other states (like Colorado) don't want it, they'll be attractive to the next industry looking for lax laws and cheap labor. Of course, they can't compete with China on lax enforcement, but they'd like to try.Personally, I think they're selling out far too damned cheap. Look, it's Colorado that wants the power. But, Colorado doesn't want the pollution or the water consumption. How 'bout these two proposals? First, Kansas customers get first dibs. As it currently stands, 85% of the power is locked-in-contract to go out of the state. As condition one of siting it here, if Kansas needs go up (say a big new industry came to Garden City), we can use more power from Sunflower, not be told we have to build more plants. Second, if it's 85% going out-of-state, every kWh that goes out-of-state gets a 1 cent per kWh surcharge. That is then applied to a 6 cent per kWh discount for Western Kansas users. Damned-near-free power, subsidized by Coloradans too prissy to burn their own coal, would actually encourage some economic development in Western Kansas.

bunnyhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

If that Colorado power company is so convinced of the environmental safety of these plants, let them build them in Colorado! Western Kansas is not a wasteland for environmental exploitation by other states!

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