Time running out for proposed Kansas coal-fired power plant


State News

November 8, 2019 - 3:30 PM

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Time is running out to begin construction on a new coal-fired power plant in Kansas before its permit lapses.

The battle over the plant has lasted more than a decade and by the time the Kansas Supreme Court cleared the way for construction in 2017, a company involved in it called the chances it would be built “remote.” But The Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle report that documents they obtained show the utility spearheading the project told regulators that “significant interest” remains in building the plant.

Sunflower Electric Power Corp. asked for an 18-month extension of a key permit “to finalize arrangements” for its construction. State regulators renewed the permit until March 2020, while warning they would not allow any more time.

Proponents of the coal plant, called Holcomb 2, say the project would bring jobs to the area. But environmentalists object to the facility, citing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Sunflower Electric already operates one plant near Holcomb and proposed to build an adjacent $2.2 billion, 895-megawatt facility. Sunflower Electric and its partner, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, have together invested more than $100 million into the project.

“Sunflower and our project partner continue to explore project options,” the company said in a statement this week. “Neither Sunflower nor Tri-State will advance the project unless it is determined that the expansion remains in the best interest of our members.”

In an August 2017 filing with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, Tri-State said it “assessed the probability of us entering into construction for the Holcomb Expansion as remote.”

When it requested the permit extension, Sunflower Electric acknowledged it and Tri-State no longer need the electricity that would be produced by the new coal plant. The company said that since the Supreme Court decision it has been looking for others to purchase power from the plant.

No new coal-fired plants have been brought online in the U.S. since 2015 and there are none under construction.


Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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