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Cash Creek IGCC plant, Kentucky

STATUS:  In progress with opposition

TYPE: Coal

OPPOSITION:  Sierra Club; Valley Watch; local citizens
PROSPECTS:  Indeterminate

BACKGROUND:   In 2001, the Cash Creek power plant was first proposed for a site near Owensboro, in Henderson County, Kentucky.  In 2006, the Erora Group proposed a 770-megawatt Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) coal plant on the site at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion.  The Sierra Club and other special interest groups together with some local citizens have opposed the project.

On December 15, 2009, the Kentucky Division for Air Quality (DAQ) issued a revised draft combined PSD construction permit/Title V operating air permit for the proposed Cash Creek plant.  On December 17, EPA required DAQ to consider whether the proposed Cash Creek IGCC plant should generate electricity with natural gas directly rather than with the syngas produced in the gasification process in the context of determining the Best Available Control Technology ("BACT") requirements in Cash Creek’s air permit application. In its order to reconsider the fuel switching, the EPA said that natural gas might be "a lower polluting fuel than syngas.”

On February 1, 2010, the Kentucky Division of Water issued a final discharge permit.  On February 24, the Erora Group project manager spoke in support of State legislation requiring local utilities to purchase electricity and gas generated by the proposed plant, even at higher than market prices, and warned that without the legislation no coal gasification plants would be built in the State.  On March 3, Sierra Club and others filed a petition with the Kentucky Office of Administrative Hearings for review of the water permit. On March 5, DAQ issued a final prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) permit/proposed Title V operating permit. On April 5, Sierra Club and its allies filed a petition asking for the air permit to be overturned. On May 5, DAQ issued a final revised prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) air permit/Title V operating permit.  On June 10, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet decided to re-open public hearings on the water permit, On June 18, Sierra Club and other special interests petitioned EPA to block the air permit.  On July 15 a hearing was held on the water permit.  On July 20, EPA’s suit challenging Kentucky’s air program was dismissed.  On September 1, Sierra Club appealed.  On September 20, a fill permit was issued.  On October 7, the final air emissions review was competed.  On October 19, the discharge permit was listed as “final decision pending.”

Sierra Club and others have unsuccessfully challenged all plant permits and zoning approvals, stirring up local opposition using class warfare.  As one Sierra Club flyer stated:

Manufactured coal syngas costs approximately twice as much as natural gas, and has less heat value. Business as usual is too risky for Kentuckians. Already, coal companies take $115 million dollars more per year from Kentucky than they pay in taxes and salaries. If coal was going to make Kentucky coal-counties rich, it would have done so by now. Now, with growing evidence that coal is financially risky, many states and businesses and cities are starting to reject dirty coal in favor of clean energy and the jobs it brings.

SOURCES:  http://www.courierpress.com/news/2008/jan/26/ky-oks-cash-creek/ http://pepei.pennnet.com/display_article/313590/6/ARCHI/none/INDUS/1/Kentucky-advanced-coal-project-obtains-air-permit/
http://gasification-igcc.blogspot.com/2010/03/does-bact-decision-kill-coal-based-igcc.html http://dep.gateway.ky.gov/eSearch/Search_Pending_Approvals.aspx 

LAST UPDATED: November 19, 2010