Biomass Energy Power Plant coming to eastern Kentucky

By: Eric Eckstrom Email
By: Eric Eckstrom Email

A Biomass Energy Power Plant is coming to Coalfields Industrial Park in Perry County. The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved a 20 year contract that will allow Kentucky Power Company to buy electricity generated by the plant.

If you haven't heard of Biomass energy before, get ready. It’s scheduled to be part of what powers eastern Kentucky, if all goes to plan.

“What the PSC approved today was contract between Kentucky Power Company and a company called ecoPower, which is proposing to build a Biomass-fueled electric generating facility outside of hazard,” said Andrew Melnykovych of PSC.

It’s the first plant to receive approval under recent legislation allowing the PSC. to prioritize other factors besides monetary costs to consumers.

“The General Assembly directed the PSC. to look at other factors such as economic impact,” Melnykovych said.

That projected economic impact according to PSC’s. news release includes 230 new jobs stemming from the Power Plant’s construction, as well as others after it’s completed, however, it comes at a cost of nearly a six percent increase on the bills of Kentucky Power customers in during its first operational year.

Perry County Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble says he opposes this contract moving forward not only due to its monetary cost, but the underlying principle as well.

“I don't think our people can afford it - poor class people. We shouldn't have to pay for jobs to come to eastern Kentucky, we've got a good work force,” Noble said.

The prospect of a nearly six percent increase for consumer power bills may not sit well with many people, but officials at Kentucky power urge folks to remember these changes are not going to happen overnight, and possibly not at all.

“It's not an immediate impact. It would be a few years down the road at the earliest and that's assuming the Plant does come to fruition, [and that] the people that plan to build and operate the plant actually produce electricity,” said Ronn Robinson of the Kentucky Power Company.

The plant is scheduled to go into operation in 2017. Judge-Executive Noble says he urges anyone with concerns about this issue to contact representatives in Frankfort.

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