Archive for Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nonprofit study says proposed Sunflower coal plant in southwest Kansas won’t be clean

Holcomb 1, pictured above, is operating at 85 percent capacity. The Holcomb Station Project proposed by Sunflower Electric Power Corporation would add a second plant that would operate at 90 percent capacity.

Holcomb 1, pictured above, is operating at 85 percent capacity. The Holcomb Station Project proposed by Sunflower Electric Power Corporation would add a second plant that would operate at 90 percent capacity.

February 10, 2011


— A new study compiled for a group that opposes the proposed Sunflower coal plant in southwest Kansas questions claims that the coal plant will be the cleanest of its kind in the country.

The study was done by MSB Energy Associates and the Natural Resources Defense Council for Great Plains Alliance for Clean Energy, a nonprofit organization created to oppose Sunflower Electric Power Corp.'s plans to build in Finney County.

Supporters of the proposed plant told The Kansas City Star it will be the cleanest coal plant in the country. But the new study questioned that promise after comparing emissions of four pollutants from the almost 700 coal-fired generating units that have the same emission levels listed in the Sunflower permit, the newspaper reported.

"Claims that this plant would rank as 'clean' or 'cleanest' either ignored existing facts and data or were made to intentionally mislead the public," said Scott Allegrucci, executive director of Great Plains Alliance.

The report, which was expected to be released Thursday, found that at least 669 coal-fired generating units have lower emissions of particulate matter than the current Sunflower permit allows and at least 321 coal-fired generating units have lower emissions of mercury than the Sunflower permit allows.

Sunflower officials have said their mission is to supply their 400,000 members with energy at the lowest possible cost while protecting the environment.

The state issued an air-quality permit in December to allow Sunflower to move forward with the $2.8 billion project, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has questioned parts of that permit.

The EPA told Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials last week that it considers the permit too lax in its limits on emissions of two pollutants, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. EPA's regional administrator said he wants a "dialogue" with the state about the issue.

KDHE said in a statement that it is standing by its permit and won't comment further because the Sierra Club has asked the state Court of Appeals to overturn the permit, and the case is still pending.

Meanwhile, Sunflower spokeswoman Cindy Hertel said the company believes the KDHE permit complied with federal and state air quality laws and added that the utility encourages discussions between federal and state officials to resolve any issues.

The permit from KDHE allows the Hays-based Sunflower to break ground on the plant at Holcomb, possibly this year. Construction had been halted for almost two years after KDHE Secretary Roderick Bremby denied the permit, siting health concerns from greenhouse gases.

A settlement agreement allowed the permitting process to begin again in 2009. Bremby was pushed out of office in November by then Gov. Mark Parkinson. A month later, John Mitchell, who replaced Bremby as acting secretary, approved the permit.

Bremby told The Star that he does not know if he was pushed out of office because he blocked the proposed coal plant.

"There was no rationale given," Bremby said. "There was no conversation about the permit or any of that. I have not had a chance to visit with Mark, so I'll just wonder a while and leave it where it is."

Parkinson, who left office in January, has denied that Bremby's departure was linked to the coal plant project.


Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

More facts on the matter from KC Star

What Sunflower officials claim and the reality are two every different animals. EPA would need to set up an office at the construction and monitor construction each step of the way.

Sunflower cannot be trusted.

Gov Parkinson and other elected officials are being fed a line of crap to feed to the public. These mouth pieces have no clue. Most likely know very little about coal fired pollution.

The bottom line so it appears Sunflower tells people what say. These people go out and say it. Sunflower then proceeds to build the cheapest polluting plant possible and the elected officials would never know any different. Once construction has commenced Sunflower somehow seems confident that inspectors would look the other way

Elected officials live an illusion. They believe white collar executives from corp america fear them.

Sunflower has zero intentions of building the cleanest possible coal plant possible.

Clark Coan 6 years, 9 months ago

"Clean coal" is an oxymoron. Only wind, solar, tidal and hydro are clean.

BruceWayne 6 years, 9 months ago

No such thing as 1000%. There is such a thing as 100%...and I am 100% without a doubt NOT voting for Sven. Looking forward to breakfast.

itwasthedukes 6 years, 9 months ago

How do you think they build the wind mills, solar panels and generators? No to mention the exhaustive amount of transmission lines? Pixie dust? And once the build them in China they have to ship them here is cargo ships which burn sludge. No energy is "clean" they only thing that will make the extremist environmentalist happy is when we have no electricity and we scale back the human population. Do you use electricity? I personally like electricity and coal is the most affordable. You probably think you Prius is clean too.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 9 months ago

Key part of this analysis -- Sunflower "promised" to use state of the art technology, particularly in the selection of the new coal plant's boiler. However, the permit allows Sunflower to use a standard boiler.

See this analysis from the Sierra Club when the agreement was signed by Governor Mark Parkinson and Sunflower:

Efficiency of the boiler. According to the handout supplied to legislators by the Governor's office, Holcomb 2 is described as an "ultra supercritical coal generating unit." However the actual agreement signed by the Governor describes the unit as a "super critical coal generating unit." Thus Sunflower is under no legal obligation to use a more efficient ultra supercritical boiler. The difference could be as much as 4 efficiency points (42% vs 38%) or about 11%. That's a lot of extra carbon.

In any event “supercritical” is not a concise term and covers a range of boiler efficiencies. Sunflower claims to have reduced their CO2 emission rate in the new proposal to 1850 lb/Mwh from 1900 lb/Mwh in their earlier plan. However this prospect is not enforceable in the agreement. Boiler efficiency needs to be defined in terms of actual boiler design.

Even with the Sierra Club's concerns in 2009, the fact is there was no effort made to even meet the "supercritical" classification. Sunflower blatantly violated the signed agreement with Governor Parkinson.

Also from the Star, does this sound like "clean coal" or "cleanest in the nation"?:

The new analysis compared emissions of four pollutants from the almost 700 coal-fired generating units in the country with the emission levels listed in the Sunflower permit.

The report found that the Sunflower permit did not compare well in two areas:

•At least 669 coal-fired generating units have lower emissions of particulate matter than the current Sunflower permit allows.

•At least 321 coal-fired generating units have lower emissions of mercury than the Sunflower permit allows.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

If this plant is so critical to the needs of Colorado, then there's no reason that this can't be the cleanest plant in the world. (and even that would be very dirty.)

BruceWayne 6 years, 9 months ago

petronius (Sven Alstrom) says… As we said earlier - I tried the forum to post when appropriate. It lasted about 6 hours and then the wingnuts - Jerry Springer show crowd took over and took it up to 290+ posts.

good bye

It is more like the Jerry Springer show than anything rational, in part due to the moderator's policy interpretations. we ARE NOT posting again - sorry.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

Let's see, supporters say it will be clean and opponents say it won't. Got it.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

P.S. Said tongue in cheek, so please no nasty comments.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Well, there are some substantive details.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

We Need a (Green) Jobs Program

Clean-energy investment would promote job growth for a wide swath of the U.S. workforce.

By Jeannette Wicks-Lim

Fourteen months of an unemployment rate at or near 10% clearly calls for the federal government to take a lead role in job creation. The White House should push its clean-energy agenda as a jobs program but steer clear of all the hype about “green-collar” jobs. Green-collar jobs are widely perceived as job opportunities accessible only to an elite segment of the U.S. workforce—those with advanced degrees, such as environmental engineers, lab technicians, and research scientists. Such jobs are inaccessible to the 52% of unemployed workers with no college experience. The truth is, however, that clean-energy investments could serve as a powerful engine for job growth for a wide swath of the U.S. workforce.

My colleagues at the Political Economy Research Institute and I examined a clean-energy program that includes making buildings more energy efficient, expanding and improving mass transit, updating the national electric grid, and developing each of three types of renewable energy sources: wind, solar, and biomass fuels. Here’s what we found.

First, clean-energy activities produce more jobs, dollar for dollar, than fossil fuel-related activities. This is because clean-energy activities tend to be more labor intensive (i.e., more investment dollars go to hiring workers than buying machines), have a higher domestic content (i.e., more dollars are spent on goods and services produced within the United States) and have lower average wages than fossil fuel-related activities. The figures in the table below show how a $1 million investment in clean-energy activities would create more than three times the number of jobs that would be created by investing the same amount in fossil fuels. (See Heidi Garrett-Peltier, Saving Energy Creates Jobs, Dollars & Sense, May/June 2009.)


bearded_gnome 6 years, 9 months ago

Oh who cares aboutso-called "clean!"

Obama energy and monitary policies are raising gas and food prices through the roof.

these democrat crooks who claim to care so much about the poor.


give us cheap energy. do it now.

build that coal plant and build a second one.
yes, we'd export electricity. and in the proess lower the cost of electricity for everyone.

Louie and Marie Antoinette Obama do not care about the poor.

Bill Griffith 6 years, 9 months ago

How do we lower the cost of electricity for everyone and export it to Colorado at the same time? Especially since the ions would not be sent our way. Also, what is the cost of the coal plant divided by Sunflower's share divided by its cooperatives and amoritized over 30 or so years? How does that compare to a combinded cycle gas plant and an investment in energy efficiency and more wind?

Scott Morgan 6 years, 9 months ago

After years and years of massive regulations here in the U.S. European Airbus now is kicking Boeing's butt in production of passenger jets.

Translation...........good jobs in Europe, no jobbie wobbie here. We in the U.S. have been sucker punched. Happening in all global industries. We wonder why Detroit looks like a war zone.

Merrill, note who is kicking Boeing's butt. A European company. The same Europe belching condemnations at the good ole U.S.A. about Green and Global Warming.

Many uneducated do not see the potential dangers in acting on "the sky is falling" Nuclear Winter, Global Warming, Cooling, Changing climate with crippling regulations.

Electricity is jobs. Cheap electricity brings with it business.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 9 months ago

Headline should be: Group finds the conclusion they had already decided on

Kontum1972 6 years, 9 months ago

what about the Sunflower Ordinance Desoto....thats a super environmental mess...

Kent Shrack 6 years, 9 months ago

Read the law suit now filed against KDHE for rushing though the process. The Lawrence Journal reported that "state employs" worked nights and weekends (for free) to get this passed through before the end of last year, when the new EPA regulations started. First, I don't know of any state employs that work overtime for free. We were told that they worked because,,, they just wanted to get this issue off their desk so they could move on to other things. If it smells like,,,,,,, it probably is. In their rush, they passed this on OLD standards, not ones in place in 2010. If they had waited two weeks this would be under the 2011 standards. This is like having plans for a 1960 car and now wanting to build it per the 1960 vehicle safety standards. I guess I thought KDHE stood for Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Maybe it is Sunflower, just misspelled. The above is only my opinion based on facts that can be found in a quick search.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

This should be obvious, of course, but the mission of the KDHE is to protect the health and environment of KS.

Bob Burton 6 years, 9 months ago

You guys need to quit whinning about this because this is little peanuts compared to what is coming down the pike.. Wait until you see the SPP charge on your bill for the high voltage power lines they are going to build for the wind generators.. Have a good day..

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