Coal-fired power plant construction permit extended

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) extended the construction permit for the 895 MW Holcomb coal-fired power plant.

The Kansas City Star reported that the order means the power plant can move forward under emission control rules that were in effect last December.

The construction permit was granted in December 2010 and required construction to start within 18 months. Work was delayed to allow the state Supreme Court to hear and decide litigation against the plant from environmental groups. A court decision could be a year or more away, the article said.

Under the state extension, Sunflower will have one year to begin construction after the legal challenge is final, the article said.

The stay reportedly would allow the plant to remain under pollution laws that were in place when the permit was issued. The company could have let the existing permit expire and then reapplied for a new permit, but it would have been subject to the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements.

The state initially denied an air quality permit in 2007 and Sunflower sued in 2008. In 2009, when Mark Parkinson became governor, he reached a legal settlement with Sunflower to allow one coal-fired unit to be built in western Kansas at a cost estimated at $3 billion.

The plant will be owned by Tri-State Generation, a Colorado utility, and operated by Sunflower. Electricity will be used by Tri-State’s wholesale customers.

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