“We’re pleased the commission saw the value of renewable energy,” said Ronn Robinson, spokesman for KPC. “Renewable energy is more expensive whether it comes from wind or from solar, and we recognize that. But this in keeping with the governor’s 2008 energy plan to diversify our energy portfolio.”
Dr. Len Peters, secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet, agreed.
“I am pleased with today’s decision by the Kentucky Public Service Commission to approve Kentucky Power Company’s request to purchase renewable electric power produced from biomass,” Peters said. “As Kentucky faces increasing challenges to address federal climate policies, we will need to be looking to projects such as this, as envisioned in the governor’s comprehensive energy plan. This is an important step for Kentucky to meet growing demands for energy, create economic development opportunities, mitigate price increases, and reduce power plant emissions.”
The request was opposed by the Kentucky Office of Attorney General which represents ratepayers in PSC rate request cases and by Kentucky Industrial Utility Customers, Inc. on behalf of industrial customers. Both opposed the projected rate increases.
“The Office of the Attorney General is not opposed to exploring biomass options,” said Daniel Kemp, a spokesman for Jack Conway. “However, in this case, it seems this will adversely affect ratepayers and not comply with Kentucky law in mandating that the least-cost source of generation be utilized.”
KPC’s Robinson said the company or its parent company, American Electric Power, will have no connection to the Hazard plant beyond purchasing power. But the plant will boost economic development through construction jobs, truckers and plant employees, he said.
According to testimony before the PSC by KPC, construction of the ecoPower plant will employ 230 people for two years and when operational the facility will employ 30 workers. It’s estimated another 225 jobs will be created for loggers and truckers.