Parkinson agrees to coal plant compromise


The Sunflower Electric Power Corporation’s proposal for a cleaner coal plant in southwest Kansas has been passed, according to a Sunflower Electric press release.

Gov. Mark Parkinson signed a renewable energy bill Friday as part of his agreement to overcome the 19-month feud between Sunflower and the governor’s office.

The new deal allows the construction of a coal-powered plant — though one much smaller than the original plans called for — outside of Holcomb, Kan. The bill also calls for renewable energy sources, like wind, to provide 20 percent of the public utilities’ electricity by 2020.

Parkinson’s plan also includes updates for transmission lines. This will allow the current wind farms to tie in to the new system.

“We’re not going to be able to fully develop the wind capacity in Kansas unless we have transmission capability,” said House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson.

According to a Sunflower press release, the corporation will be allowed to build an 895-megawatt plant, with enough storage to provide power to approximately 448,000 households. Sunflower agreed to work toward off-setting potential carbon-dioxide emissions, which are estimated to be 6.7 million tons per year.

Sunflower had applied for a permit in 2006 to build its plant with three generating units at 2,100 megawatts. They were denied early due to carbon emissions, and the company fought for two years at the state level before the agreement was reached.

The Environmental Protection Agency determined that too much about this project has been altered to allow Sunflower to move ahead with its initial permit, according to David Bryan, spokesman for the EPA’s regional office in Kansas City.

“We believe the proposal by Sunflower is a new project,” Bryan said. “That means we expect a public comment period, a technical analysis, all the things that need to be done.”