Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Kenton might protest generator

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        INDEPENDENCE — Kenton Fiscal Court is considering a request to join opponents of a mini power plant — called a peaking station — planned for a Cinergy-owned site in Erlanger bordering Crestview Hills.

        Crestview Hills Mayor Paul Meier and City Administrator Kevin Celarek, citing concerns about pollution, Tuesday asked county officials to join seven local governments that oppose the Kentucky Division of Air Quality's recent issuance of an air quality permit for the plant. An appeal filed June 1 sought to revoke the permit.

        The fiscal court took the issue under advisement, but was not able to take action for lack of a quorum. Commissioner Dan Humpert was absent, and Commissioner Barb Black excused herself from the discussion, because her husband, Keith, is general manager of state government affairs for Cinergy Corp.

Pollution fears

        Mr. Meier said young children and senior citizens would be especially susceptible to pollutants emitted by the peaking station, which is planned for a 13-acre site within 600 feet of the Baptist Village assisted living complex and the future Erlanger branch of the Kenton County Public Library.

        A peaking station is an electricity generating facility designed to come on only in peak emergency electric use circumstances, such as in high summer when many air conditioners are being used.

        Mr. Meier said the facility would be the fourth-largest stationary source of air pollution in Northern Kentucky, behind Newport Steel Corp.

        “How many of us would want to live near Interlake Steel?” Mr. Meier asked. “We believe this facility is needed, but we don't believe this is the right spot for it.”

Station meets standards

        Victor A. “Van” Needham III, manager of regional government affairs for Cinergy Corp., said the proposed peaking station meets state and federal standards. He added Cinergy would not risk the health and safety of Kenton County residents, who also include hundreds of Cinergy employees, retirees and shareholders.

        Mr. Meier asked why Kenton County should bear the brunt of the pollution to provide power to other areas. He also expressed concern that the peaking station would endanger Northern Kentucky's ozone attainment status.

        Mr. Needham said the peaking station “would not push Northern Kentucky out of compliance with ozone standards.”

        Because most of the energy generated is expected to be sold on the wholesale market outside of the Tristate, Mr. Needham said its cost will be borne by company shareholders. It won't affect utility rates of Cinergy's Northern Kentucky customers, he said.

        Mr. Meier also expressed concerns that the peaking station legally could emit up to 432 tons of air pollutants between May 1 and Oct. 1.

        That's more than the 262 tons of pollutants that a similar-sized plant proposed for Cincinnati's West End would emit, he said.

        Cinergy spokesman Steve Brash later said the peaking station proposed for the West End faces stricter limits on air pollutants than the Northern Kentucky plant because it is in a different Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region. He added the EPA region that includes Cincinnati has stricter limits on emissions than Northern Kentucky, because it is a more industrialized area that emits more pollutants.

        To generate 432 tons of air pollutants, the Erlanger peaking station would have to run up to 90 percent of the time between May 1 and Oct. 1, instead of the 25 percent that it is projected to run, Mr. Brash said.


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