Eastern Kentucky Power Halts Proposed Smith Power Plant

Story by Jamie Goodman

Kentucky citizens attend an air permit hearing press conference for the Smith plant last February. Eastern Kentucky Power Cooperative reached a settlement with several groups and agreed to cancel plans to build the 278MW power plant. Photo by Kentuckians for the Commonwealth

Environmental groups in Kentucky are celebrating a major victory over a proposed coal-fired power plant slated for Clark County.

Eastern Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) reached a settlement with environmental groups, three individual co-op members, the Kentucky attorney general and Gallatin Steel—EKPC’s largest industrial customer—agreeing to halt plans for the utility’s proposed Smith coal-fired power plant.

EKPC also agreed to commit $125,000 toward a joint effort between the involved parties to evaluate and recommend new energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.

In exchange, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC), Kentucky Environmental Foundation and the Sierra Club agreed to drop a number of lawsuits and administrative challenges against the cooperative.

According to EKPC representatives, the decision was based on financial concerns and not environmental pressure. Estimates for the total cost of constructing the Smith plant were around $819 million, with $150 million already spent on materials.

“I believe this decision by EKPC is the right one for Kentucky,” said KFTC member Tona Barkley. “I am heartened by this new development and the commitment EKPC has made to work in a collaborative fashion with co-op members and the other parties to the agreement.”

“This new openness and more democratic method will, I believe, help bring the co-ops back to their original purpose–serving its rural members in a transparent fashion,” Barley said.

The groups involved in the settlement also agreed to not oppose the utility’s efforts to recover costs already spent on the plant, including selling turbines and other parts that were already purchased.


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