The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Friday, June 22, 2001

USEC role uncertain on new power plant during moratorium
The group including the company did not file its permit application before the beginning of the six-month suspension.

By Bill Bartleman

Key officials aren't sure what effect Gov. Paul Patton's moratorium on applications for power plants will have on bids submitted to the Tennessee Valley Authority for building a 600-megawatt plant to meet future power demands.

While TVA would not divulge how many bids were received from Kentucky, the United States Enrichment Corp. confirmed it is part of a consortium that wants a huge gas-fired power plant near the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion plant in western McCracken County.

The USEC group did not file its permit application with the Kentucky Natural Resources Cabinet prior to imposition of the moratorium Tuesday. The moratorium is in effect for at least six months.

TVA is reviewing bids from Kentucky and other states, and by July 16 is expected to announce a list of finalists, with a decision on who gets the project expected Oct. 15, two months before the Kentucky moratorium is lifted.

If TVA is concerned about the moratorium, it could reject bids by USEC and any others proposed in Kentucky. A 600-megawatt plant would cost as much as $1 billion and provide hundreds of jobs during construction plus a number of good-paying permanent jobs after it is completed.

"We are continuing to assess the situation in an effort to determine if it will affect us," said USEC spokeswoman Elizabeth Stuckle.

The comment from TVA was similar. "We are continuing to look into it," said spokesman Gil Francis. The initial reaction was that it would have little effect on any of the bids, but Francis wasn't aware that USEC did not submit its permit application to the state prior to the deadline. He said application reviewers would decide if that is a factor.

Patton issued an executive order Tuesday instructing state agencies to suspend acceptance of power plant applications while the new Kentucky State Energy Policy Advisory Board assesses environmental and energy issues related to power plants. He wants the group to complete its work by Dec. 7.

“It is important that we ensure a continued, reliable source of energy for our citizens, but it is also necessary that we study the potential effects that additional air emissions from new plants could bring to the state as well as their effect upon the electric supply grid,” Patton said. “We must strive to strike a balance between our energy needs, our ability to generate energy for others and our commitment for a clean, safe environment.”

The fact that no one from western Kentucky was appointed to the energy advisory board drew concern from state Rep. Buddy Buckingham, D-Murray, chairman of the 20-county western region New Economy task force.

Buckingham plans to encourage Patton to expand the board to include someone from western Kentucky.

Buckingham's point man is Don Bowles of Madisonville, a retired coal operator and president of the Kentucky Coal Council. "I've asked him to make contact to see if he couldn't influence a couple of spots on that commission," Buckingham said.

The Pennyrile area, strong in coal mining, should have a say in the moratorium because 51 percent of Kentucky's power plants are coal-fired, he said.

Patton said the advisory board will be attached to the Kentucky Public Service Commission. Standing members are secretaries of the natural resources, public protection and economic development cabinets; the chairman of the Public Service Commission; the director of the Division of Energy in the Natural Resources Cabinet; and the director of the Kentucky Center for Applied Energy and Research at the University of Kentucky.

Appointed board members are:

--Jack Conway of Louisville, who will serve as chairman and the governor's designee.

--Victoria I. Weber of Louisville, the consumer representative.

--George Siemens of Louisville, the utility industry representative.

--Haydon Timons of LaGrange, also a utility industry representative.

--Tom FitzGerald of Frankfort, representing environmental advocates.

--Robert Addington of Ashland, the coal industry representative.

--Donald B. Daily of Ghent, representing industrial consumers.

--Bill Daugherty of Berea, representing the oil and gas industry.