Wednesday, June 20, 2001

N. Ky. power plant still in works

Permit OK'd before Patton moratorium

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        An executive order Tuesday halting permits for new power plants by Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton apparently will not affect a controversial Northern Kentucky facility.

        The governor held a news conference in Frankfort on Tuesday to announce the moratorium.

        Residents and local leaders in seven Northern Kentucky cities have protested a Cinergy Corp. plan to build a peaking station on Erlanger-Crescent Springs Road in front of the company's gas plant and electrical substation.

        The governor's executive order, in effect up to six months, also calls for the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet and Public Service Commission to study a variety of environmental issues and report by Dec. 7.

        Phil Taliaferro, a Covington attorney representing a group of Erlanger residents, called Mr. Patton's order a move in the right direction, but a little too late to stop the Cinergy plant.

        “For the citizens of Kentucky generally speaking, this is an outstanding executive order,” Mr. Taliaferro said. “However, the executive order does not apparently include the proposed 432 tons of pollutants that the proposed Erlanger plant will emit during just a five-month period.”

        The site is about 800 feet from residents of Crestview Hills, 700 feet from the Baptist Village assisted-living complex in Erlanger and 600 feet from the site of the future Erlanger branch of the Kenton County Public Library.

        City councils in seven Kenton County cities — Erlanger, Edgewood, Elsmere, Crestview Hills, Fort Mitchell, Lakeside Park and Villa Hills — oppose the station.

        Last month, Cinergy Capital & Trading Inc., an affiliate of Cinergy Corp., received approval for the station from the Kentucky Division for Air Quality.

        That decision is being appealed to the state Office of Administrative Hearings in Frankfort. Crestview Hills Administrator Kevin Celarek said a pre-hearing conference will be July 17.

        If the appeal fails, a lawsuit is expected to be filed in Franklin Circuit Court. Mr. Celarek said Mr. Patton's order is extra ammunition at the hearing.

        “We're saying (the station is) an environmental hazard,” Mr. Celarek said. “The state is saying it could be.”

        Cinergy's station would cost $40 million to $50 million and consist of two natural gas-fired turbine engines. Energy generated at the peaking station would be sold on the wholesale market and would boost the supply of electrical power in Northern Kentucky during periods of high use.

        Since 1998, Kentucky has granted 12 permits for power stations. There are currently 10 permit applications pending approval — a level the governor's office called a “dramatic increase.”

        Mr. Patton's action came one day after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered price restrictions on electricity throughout the West. A story in Tuesday's USA Today stated the FERC measure was an attempt to contain increasing energy costs threatening California this summer.

        Cinergy spokesman Steve Brash said the FERC action will not affect residents here.

        “You're not going to buy energy in Kentucky and move it to the West Coast,” Mr. Brash said.


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