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Power plant plans are coming into sharper focus

Latest KCP&L proposal still includes plant at Weston Bend

by Mark Vasto
Landmark reporter

Saying that they have listened to the community, Great Plains Energy, Inc., parent company of local energy provider KCP&L, has announced to local media and state regulators its revised plans for building power plants in the region.

KCP&L, which already owns and maintains the 450-megawatt Iatan power plant station, says it has narrowed its proposal down to include renewable energy sources and energy efficiency plans. The company says the plans are necessary in order to address the region's energy needs for at least the next 15 years.

“We have a proposal out there, in the community and at the public forums as well as the regulating agency for discussion,” said Tom Robinson, spokesman for KCP&L. “It’s something that’s open for discussion.”

The proposal calls for an 800-megawatt power plant – 500 of which would be owned by KCP&L – 200 megawatts of wind power, stepped up scheduling of environmental controls at the existing (Iatan) plant, and an energy efficiency program.

Robinson acknowledged that the company had narrowed the scope of its original plans to build two coal plants to just one and shifted their focus from selling the energy on the open, unregulated market to selling excess energy to other utilities in the region.

“We’re focusing, for the purposes of this discussion, on the Platte County site,” Robinson confirmed.

When asked when KCP&L would begin to install environmental controls on the existing Iatan plant, Robinson said that in much the same way the coal plant was still unofficially decided, so was the timeframe or final decision to install controls.

“It’s not a question of a decision being made yet,” Robinson stressed. “We’re trying to keep everything in the context of (the region’s) energy needs for the future and this is a proposal.”

Robinson said that the company is still in the conceptual stages when it comes to evaluating its wind power plans, but confirmed that the company was scouting locations in both Northwest Missouri and Kansas for power generation.

The changes come in the wake of protests by hundreds of Platte County residents opposed to the proposed coal plants. The most vocal opposition has been provided by the Sierra Club, the nation's largest environmental watchdog group and a local, grassroots group called Concerned Citizens of Platte County (CCPC). The health risks associated with the plants were too great to bear, they argued, even while the local school district claimed that the plant would bring a much needed infusion of cash to the area.

Under the terms of the original, unregulated plant agreement, the West Platte School District stood to earn about $1.7 million per year. With the change of plans, KCP&L has been unable to provide projections for the area’s tax revenue.

“Six months ago the company wanted two plants to sell power on the open market. Now we are down to one plant and we suddenly need the power a little closer to home (mostly Johnson County),” remarked Susan Brown, spokesperson for the Concerned Citizens of Platte County, in a written communication to her group’s members. “I don’t know what to believe, but I do know this...we don’t need any more coal-burning power plants!”

Citing a study from the Environmental Law and Policy Center, a self- described Midwest based public interest environmental advocacy organization, Brown stated that efficiency technology can reduce power demand by 17 percent over ten and 28% over 20 years - eliminating the need for another plant.

Brown said she also disagreed about the growth projections being used by KCPL.

“Last year, according to the Department of Energy, overall energy demand rose only .6%. They project future growth rates of 1.3%. KCPL is using rates of 2-3%. Sounds a little high.”

KCP&L will continue meeting with the general public at its remaining two forums on Thursday at the Atchison Heritage Convention Center and July 13 at the Discovery Center at Troost Avenue in Kansas City.




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