Today, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment released a draft air permit and schedule for public hearings for Sunflower Electric’s proposed 895 MW coal plant in Holcomb, KS. The controversial expansion plans have been the subject of a multi-year debate in Kansas stemming from the many public health, environmental, and financial risks the plant poses. Although very little of the power would stay in Kansas, the Holcomb expansion poses a multitude of public health and environmental risks to Kansans.
“For Sunflower’s minimal power needs, building a near 900 MW coal plant is quite possibly the most risky option for ratepayers and the environment,” said Stephanie Cole of the Kansas Sierra Club.
“The draft permit is a highly technical and lengthy document, and Kansans deserve enough time to thoroughly review the details of the draft permit,” said Amanda Goodin, an Earthjustice attorney who is representing opponents of the expansion project. “Given the fact that the health and welfare of Kansas citizens is at stake, a comprehensive independent review of the permit provisions is essential,” said Goodin.
The public hearings are an opportunity for the coal plant project to be fully vetted by the public, which is a necessary element of the permitting process.
“Citizen input was not allowed in the agreement Governor Parkinson reached with Sunflower last year, and our hope is that the public will recognize that the permit hearings are an important opportunity to have our concerns with this project considered,” said Stephanie Cole.
Coal plant development across the country faces increased regulatory uncertainty, lack of financing, and an awareness of the financial risks coal plants pose to ratepayers. In recent years, due to record-setting clean energy growth and dramatic increases in efficiency, not a single new coal plant has broken ground for construction in the last 18 months.
Sunflower Debt to Taxpayers Remains a Sticking Point
Sunflower has yet to pay back taxpayers for their existing coal plant in Holcomb, which has been the source of financial struggles for Sunflower, as well as unnecessarily high rates for their ratepayers. A lawsuit challenging the Rural Utilities Service approval of funding mechanisms for the Sunflower expansion is already being considered in federal court.
Read information on the draft permit and public hearings.