Coal Plant Postponed

 

By CAROLYN SZCZEPANSKI

Now you see it, now you don’t. This time last week, Missouri officials approved the construction of a new, coal-burning power plant. Today, the electric company put those plans on hold.

Last fall, Springfield-based Associated Electric Cooperative Inc., announced its intent to build a new facility in Norborne, a small town 60

AEC’s New Madrid coal plant  

miles northeast of Kansas City. Activists with the Sierra Club and the Missouri Clean Energy Coalition protested the proposal, citing the global-warming pollution that comes from burning coal.

This afternoon, both sides changed their tune.

Nancy Southworth, a company spokeswoman, tells The Pitch thatAECI officials decided to shelf the coal plant at a board meeting last Friday. “They looked at all the data about the project and the costs had continued to climb,” she says. According to a news release this afternoon, the estimated price tag had grown to more than $2 billion.

Southworth says AECI has already committed to buying electricity from wind farms in northwest Missouri and will unveil a new energy efficiency program later this week. AECI is also investigating the use of nuclear power, she added.

 

Norborne won’t be getting AEC smokestacks anytime soon.

The Sierra Club, which had spent months in “frank discussions” with AECI, praised the utility. “With today’s announcement that they are abandoning their coal plans in favor of clean energy, Associated Electric is taking a giant step forward in our collective fight to stop global warming,” Melissa Hope, an organizer with the Missouri Sierra Club, said in a news release.

AECI isn’t alone. Including the Norborne proposal, 63 coal-burning plants across the country have been canceled or postponed in recent months. Meanwhile, Kansas legislators are still trying to ram through plans for a massive coal complex in Holcomb. Maybe this forward-looking utility from the Show-Me state can help lead the way.

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