Supreme Court to review SWEPCO plant | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Supreme Court to review SWEPCO plant

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 10:09 AM

The Arkansas Supreme Court said today it would review the Court of Appeals decision overturning Public Service Commission approval of the proposed American Electric Power subsidiary's coal-fired power plant in Hempstead County. The Court of Appeals had said the PSC hadn't fully considered all relevant issues. A Supreme Court review of this was considered a certainty.

If the appeals court decision stands, SWEPCO would have to start the approval process with the PSC all over again, which could prove quite costly.  SWEPCO has already spent over $700 million on construction, which has continued despite opposition from environmental groups and hunting clubs in the area.  Check out the jump for some back ground on the case, and a press release from the Sierra Club on the court's decision.

For some background on Court of Appeals decision, go here.  On June 24, the appeals court overturned the PSC's decision to grant a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need (CECPN).  The court found that the PSC had erred in three ways: by failing to resolve all matters (location, financing, construction, and operation of electric generating plants and electric and gas transmission lines and associated facilities) in one proceeding; by resolving the basis of need for the facility in a separate proceeding; and by failing to address alternative locations in the manner required by statute.

Here's the press release from the Sierra Club:


Arkansas Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case on Dirty Coal in Arkansas

The Arkansas Supreme Court today accepted an appeal concerning the proposed SWEPCO coal-fired power plant in Southwest Arkansas. By accepting the appeal, the Court has the opportunity to affirm a unanimous Arkansas Court of Appeals ruling that SWEPCO’s construction permit was invalid.

“The Supreme Court now has an opportunity to protect Arkansas’s environment and the public health of her citizens,” said Glen Hooks, Regional Director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “The SWEPCO power plant would spew millions of tons of pollutants and poisons into our air, water, and bodies every year for the next forty to fifty years. More than one hundred proposed coal-fired power plants across the country have been stopped or abandoned in the last few years. They are a clear danger for our state and nation, and we look forward to the Court closely examining the issue.”

The proposed SWEPCO facility is a 600-megawatt coal-burning facility to be located near Fulton, Arkansas. According to SWEPCO’s filings, the completed plant would annually emit between five and six million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, along with hundreds of pounds of poisonous mercury.

In June, when SWEPCO announced its appeal, it claimed to have spent more than $700 million on constructing the plant. Construction has continued since June, despite the Court of Appeals ruling and the fact that SWEPCO’s other permits were still pending or on appeal. Environmental groups and others have repeatedly called on SWEPCO to stop construction, and argued that SWEPCO should not expect to recover construction costs incurred without having proper permits.

“Despite lacking all its permits, SWEPCO has likely spent a billion dollars rushing to build the plant. SWEPCO even continued building after a unanimous Court of Appeals ruled against the plant,” said Hooks. “Forcing Arkansas ratepayers to pick up a billion dollar tab for this reckless behavior would be unconscionable and unfair.”

“Over the last three years, thousands of Arkansans have called upon Arkansas regulators to say no to dirty coal and say yes to a clean energy future,” concluded Hooks. “I am proud that our Supreme Court today struck a blow against coal, the single dirtiest fuel source of all.”

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