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Report: Ohio Coal Plant Could Leave Taxpayers Holding the Bag

February 5, 2008

Columbus, OH – As Ohio towns and cities consider a major investment in coal power, a new report finds that Ohioans could be left with higher-than-expected costs.

A proposal by non-profit power company A.M.P. Ohio calls for local governments to "buy in" to new power generation, including a large coal plant, and make a 50-year commitment to buy electricity from the company. The report calculates that production costs would be 40 to 50 percent higher than the company has estimated, and Andrew Wetzler with the Natural Resources Defense Council says the new numbers mean local governments would be stuck with the tab.

"The plant puts enormous financial risk in the lap of taxpayers and municipalities, to support a technology that is out-of-date and whose costs are grossly underestimated."

In making its case, the company has said the plan would give cities more control over their electricity supply compared to buying power on the open market. Wetzler says the need to control global warming pollution is another cost factor to be considered for coal power production. He points to an announcement Monday by three major Wall Street banks that they would factor in environmental costs when financing coal plants.

Supporters of coal power say it's the only way to meet growing demand for electricity. Wetzler says there are viable alternatives and Ohio should be turning toward those sources for future power needs.

"First, and most importantly, there's energy efficiency, which can vastly reduce a community's dependence on coal-fired electricity. There's renewable sources of energy, such as for example, the wind farm project that AMP Ohio itself is investing in, near Bowling Green."

He says solar and bio-fuels are also promising alternatives for Ohio. The new report is from financial consulting firm Scott Balice Strategies.

Rob Ferrett/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - OH