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Scratched KY Power Plant Plans Called a "Win-Win"

November 26, 2010

WINCHESTER, Ky. - East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) and environmental groups, once at odds over plans to build a coal-fired power plant, are now united in the search for greener energy options. Their agreement comes as the power company agrees to scratch the plant idea. The cooperative recently reached a settlement with individual co-op members and several groups that had sued to stop plans to build the coal-fueled power plant in Clark County.

Tona Barkley is a member/owner of Owen Electric Cooperative, one of the 16 member co-ops East Kentucky Power serves.

"This collaborative will go on for two years. EKPC is going to put over $100,000 into helping the collaborative do research on energy efficiency and renewable energy as alternatives to producing new power."

East Kentucky Power Cooperative serves more than 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in 87 counties. In June, the Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, started an investigation to determine if the project was cost-effective and necessary to meet demand for power, Barkley explains.

"East Kentucky Power has not issued their 20-year load forecast, and they delayed it during this period. We believe that demand is down. The Public Service Commission had also questioned that."

Improving efficiency of the building stock is the cheapest form of "new power" that reduces demand and creates jobs, Barkley says, that the collaborative could bring about.

"We've got a lot of houses and buildings that are very wasteful. There's a lot of heat flowing right out the door - or out the cracks, if you will. There's a lot of work for people who'd be contractors to improve that situation."

The plant was expected to cost $819 million to build, according to EKPC. The utility already spent nearly $150 million on structural steel and other materials for the unit.

The cooperative's leaders say the decision to stop the project was based, in part, on the decreased demand for electricity resulting from a tight economy.

Renee Shaw, Public News Service - KY