SWEPCO: Legal challenges to Turk plant settled


Photographs by Southwestern Electric Power Co. / Southwestern Electric Power Co.

Photo provided by Southwestern Electric Power Co. of its coal-fired power plant under construction in Hempstead County.

— Southwestern Electric Power Company said Thursday that it has settled legal challenges to its construction of a power plant near Texarkana.

The Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society and Audubon Arkansas had filed suit over the John W. Turk Jr. Power Plant, a 600-megawatt coal-powered plant in Hempstead County.

Under the terms of the settlement, the legal challenges from those entities will be withdrawn and an injunction temporarily halting work on the facility will be lifted. In exchange, the utility will shut down another plant, pay millions to the environmental agencies and abide by a number of other restrictions once the new plant goes online.

SWEPCO said the settlement agreement includes the following provisions:

  • The 528-megawatt Welsh Unit 2 plant near Pittsburg, Texas will only be allowed to operate at 60 percent of its annual capacity once the Turk plant opens and it must be shut down completely by 2016.
  • Additional generating units will not be built at the Turk site
  • No new coal-fueled generating units can be added within 30 miles of the Turk plant.
  • The Turk plant will only burn coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming or coal with similar properties.
  • SWEPCO also must construct or secure 400 megawatts of new renewable energy meeting environmental guidelines set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, per the settlement.
  • New transmission lines from the Turk Plant won't cross Nacatoches Ravines Natural Area, the Little River Bois D'Arc Management area, property owned by The Nature Conservancy or the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission within Hempstead County and property owned by the Hempstead County Hunting Club.
  • SWEPCO will test particulate matter emissions and wastewater discharge and perform additional groundwater monitoring.
  • SWEPCO will pay $8 million to The Nature Conservancy for land conservation, $2 million to the Arkansas Community Foundation for clean energy measures and $2 million to Sierra and Audubon for attorney fees.

Nicholas K. Akins, president and chief executive officer of American Electric Power, which owns SWEPCO, applauded the settlement agreement.

"We have long believed that the Turk Plant is the right generation solution for our customers in three states, our electric system and the economy in Southwest Arkansas," he said in a statement. "The provisions of the agreement are consistent with our commitment to renewable energy, energy efficiency and overall environmental stewardship."

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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TomBear says...

That deal kinda sounds like legalized extortion to me.

Posted 22 December 2011, 10:38 a.m. Suggest removal

Oldearkie says...

This is not only extortion, but the people, me and you , are the ones who will actually be paying the various agencies the bribes.

Posted 22 December 2011, 10:56 a.m. Suggest removal

JIMBOB47 says...

Why even bother completing a multi-million $$$ operation if you have to run at 60% capacity and then have to SHUT DOWN by 2016? I guess these environmentalists expect their computers will be powered by 'MAGIC''? I see nothing wrong will using what we have and working on futuristic changes, BUT shutting down our power grid certainly won't help matters. Just wait until these people see the skyrocketing costs of electricity - remember when gasoline was 25 cents a gallon - then they will bitch about the high costs - Obummer promised us much higher prices - here they come!

Posted 22 December 2011, 11:03 a.m. Suggest removal

LevitiCuss says...

Customers in THREE states? That's a lie right there. All the power from this plant will go to TX and LA- you know, those states that wouldn't let them build a coal-fired plant THERE.

Posted 22 December 2011, 11:10 a.m. Suggest removal

LevitiCuss says...

And it's not extortion when they broke the law to begin with, which they did. Now they're just paying us to look the other way while they foul our air. It's called "hush money". Wonder how many Arkansans will be among those 384,000 people who die every year from pulmonary disease caused by burning fossil fuels?

Posted 22 December 2011, 11:15 a.m. Suggest removal

cadronboy03120856 says...

Environmental mitigation is nearly always nothing but extortion (and this is coming from a biologist who has devoted a large portion of his life to environmental issues -- "SWEPCO will pay $8 million to The Nature Conservancy for land conservation, $2 million to the Arkansas Community Foundation for clean energy measures and $2 million to Sierra and Audubon for attorney fees" -- As soon as everyone gets a little piece of the pie these projects always get approved and are built. Remember the snail darter controversy back in the 1970s that delayed of the construction of the Tellico Dam on the Little Tennessee River and resulted in millions of dollars of overruns -- well eventually the dam gets built, the snail darter takes a hit, and the end-users and taxpayers end up footing the bill -- albeit the lawyers and environmentalists walk away with thousands and thousands of dollars to pocket. Only when a company refuses to be strong-armed to pay off the lawyers and environmentalists do the actual projects get terminated.

Keystone pipeline? As soon as Obama's cronies, the "chicago mafia" and his supporters can position themselves to profit on the project through contracts, extortion, under the table dealings -- Obama will sign off on the project -- but right now Obama and his cronies are mostly "out of the loop" -- once they move into position to make a few millions, well just watch...

Posted 22 December 2011, 11:22 a.m. Suggest removal

cadronboy03120856 says...

"Wonder how many Arkansans will be among those 384,000 people who die every year from pulmonary disease caused by burning fossil fuels?"

Or from smoking tobacco or marijuana? Of from eating processed foods laden with chemicals? Or driving too fast? Or holding an electromagnetic transmitter (phone) up against their head? I assure you far more people in Arkansas will die from lifestyle and consensual acts than from the Turk's plant emissions. Use your noggin!

Posted 22 December 2011, 11:26 a.m. Suggest removal

dhirsch_centurytel.net says...

This plant is really quite insignificant. Every week several new coal burners go on stream just in China and India. This has been going on for many years and will continue far into the future.
The problem is too many people. Our last chance to save our civilization was about 50 years ago. We have been in free-fall ever since.

Posted 22 December 2011, 11:59 a.m. Suggest removal

cadronboy03120856 says...

Excellent point! All that high sulphur coal being mined in Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, etc. may not find much use here in America but it is being shipped to China and India elsewhere in vast quantities where it is being burned with little consideration given to reducing emissions -- one might even argue that it would be better for the global environment if we burned the coal here where we are better able to reduce the emissions. Yet even as we export millions of tons a coal overseas each year and have the world's largest deposits of low sulphur coal the US is getting to the point that we actually import more coal than we export. Why? Because environmental restrictions regarding roads, power transmission lines, etc. has effectively put most of our low sulphur coal off limits -- these vast deposits lie mostly untouched in places like Grand Stair Case Escalante that are protected by law. Thus we even import our low sulphur coal from overseas. Obvious this makes no environmental sense from a global perspective nor from an econmical perspective.

But then again this is a country where it's illegal to secure oil/gas in the desolate artic circle that is principally devoid of inhabitants yet it is ok to drill and frack in my backyard and place our aquifers, homesteadsd and family -- even entire communities -- at risk. Go figure!

Posted 22 December 2011, 12:17 p.m. Suggest removal

StrayGoose says...

The Audubon Society and Sierra Club have cost American society as whole countless dollars through litigation and regulatory actions, and each of us is paying for their environmental whacko actions. It's time to defund the EPA!

Posted 22 December 2011, 12:22 p.m. Suggest removal

DontDrinkDatKoolAid says...

I wonder where the documentation is where 384,000 people die every year from pulmonary disease caused by burning fossil fuels?

Posted 22 December 2011, 2:27 p.m. Suggest removal

NickieD says...

LevitiCuss & dhirsch have it right... the only thing that Dorkinsaw will get from this coal fired plant is mercury pollution and coal ash.... and why? Because people like StrayGoose & Hope don't realize the Environmental groups are all that stand between them and burning rivers and cloudy drinking water or air you can't see through. Perhaps they are to young to remember that these were real (and accepted) conditions until Environmentalists got involved.
The solution is, of course, spend the money on renewable energy sources instead of trying to clean up 19th century technology like coal. There is no such thing as "clean coal" just as burning hydrocarbons, the really bad ideas like the XL Pipeline and more drilling for oil are not a solution to pollution.

Posted 22 December 2011, 3:21 p.m. Suggest removal

john6412 says...

this is a sad day for our state.

Posted 22 December 2011, 3:24 p.m. Suggest removal

C_Harkey says...

Would you please explain the significance of the Welsh part of the deal?

Posted 22 December 2011, 3:45 p.m. Suggest removal

cwbird says...

What the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and all the other tree huggers do not do is to provide real solutions that better the lives of their fellowman. It is evident that all they ever want to do is tear things down. When I was a kid and a young adult, the byword was "conservation," but somewhere between then and now that word got replaced with "environmentalism."

Conservation was about being a good steward of natural resources for the benefit of mankind. That was good. Environmentalism is taking draconian measures to "save the planet" for the planet's sake and with little or no regard for the measures' effect on mankind. That is stupid and fundamentally wrong. The earth was created as a place for man to live and for nothing else. Man is charged with taking care of the earth and with wisely using its resources, but ONLY for the benefit of man.

So, it seems to me that we ought to be taking the conservationist approach. It seems to me that working on making coal burn cleaner is the key. It is not to succumb to the idiocy of trying to make wind and solar work (Wind and solar can NEVER be the major sources of electric power because of their own very nature.). And it is not to focus on cleaning the stack gases and the water effluent from the plant. It seems to me that the only thing to do is to find ways to clean the coal before it is burned in such a way that it burns cleaner. Then later work on cleaning the remainder of the contaminants from the stack gases and the fly ash.

Some have said the settlement was extortion. I agree. But the solution is not to moan about that. As a people, we must rise up and refuse the environmentalists' lie. More than that we must insist that the judiciary and the legislators refuse the environmentalists' lies on pain of being tossed out of office.

Posted 22 December 2011, 4:17 p.m. Suggest removal

NickieD says...

cwbird, how can you make a distinction between the health of this planet and the benefits of a healthy environment on humanity? You say "...save the planet for the planets sake..." as if that was a bad thing. Where do you live?
I know this is news to some of you, but we live on this planet, if we just throw poison around, poison our water, our air the very dirt we grow crops in what does that bode for us? 'Renewable energy can NEVER be a major source of energy...' YOU say. But you are wrong and every environmental scientist disagrees with you!
If the energy companies spent the money they spend in court fighting clean air, water and earth, we'd have workable systems. You underestimate humans and their ability to invent.
Why is it you think that only 19th and 20th century technology will work in the future? Are you that sure we can't advance ourselves beyond the outmoded technology and the limited supply of raw nonrenewable energy sources that profit only the CEO's of the Big Power Corps?
JIMBOB: you said you were an Independent... but you're no more an Independent than Eric Cantor is. Bernie Sanders is an Independent, you are a Republican and you are blind to anything beyond the Republican propaganda and BS. I bet you even watch FAUX Noise for your ideas.

Posted 22 December 2011, 5:15 p.m. Suggest removal

RaylanGivens says...

Bernie Sanders is independent like you are Nickie, along with Aimee and others. Don't float crap out there to support your argument; it really makes you look like you have a Forrest Gump IQ.

Posted 22 December 2011, 6:20 p.m. Suggest removal

NickieD says...

MC, gee, I never said I was a Independent... and I don't agree with all the Dem's ideas... though I sure think the T-party butt-heads aren't doing anything for my country except trying to get rid of Pres Obama... that is a lousy way to run a Gov't and it stinks for a policy when America needs jobs! The Republicans are nothing more than a log jam for every single idea, good or bad, that the Pres has come up with. They have accomplished absolutely nothing useful... it must be embarrassing to be a Republican, perhaps that is why your good friend Jimbob calls himself an Independent... eh?
COMPREHENSION is the trick to reading.
Lastly, Bernie Sanders, Independent, is a better politician than any others I can think of... bar none!

Posted 22 December 2011, 7:14 p.m. Suggest removal

mhck52 says...

Now that the bribes have been paid ... you may continue. Sounds like some Jesse Jackson action going on here.

Posted 22 December 2011, 8:50 p.m. Suggest removal

Jjackk says...

Its all peanuts to them. They spent 800 million before they even applied for a permit. The CEO makes twice as much every year. Besides everything is what they are gonna do in the future. All it will take will be a simple injunction to block the agreement when it comes time to actually do something they don't want to.

Posted 22 December 2011, 10:29 p.m. Suggest removal

lazybar says...

if the tree huggers were really worried about the evironment they should spend thier time and money trying to find a better solution to using fossil fuels and they would be better thought of among the community but no they just want to complain and protest in turn causing fuel cost to rise.yeah i`d love to live in a world were there were no smoke stacks and a nation not dependant on the mideast but i don`t see it happening in my lifetime.

Posted 24 December 2011, 10:30 a.m. Suggest removal

Jjackk says...

I agree, the one problem I have is that the electric rates have already been raised to pay for it (SWEPCO's words) last year and they will get tax breaks for the re-tooling when their customers are the ones paying for it. But yea, if you don't like it, produce your own electricity because its not like they have any competitors, you can't buy it from anywhere else. You make your own or pay them, its guaranteed customers. Merry Christmas everybody!!!

Posted 24 December 2011, 11:16 a.m. Suggest removal

T6 says...

We can thank the EPA for our electric rates going up. Obama did say he would bankrupt the coal industry and our electric bills would necessarily skyrocket. Yep that's gonna happen!

Posted 24 December 2011, 6:31 p.m. Suggest removal

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