Local leaders continue to fight for fair settlement for Adams County –
Story by Patricia Beech –
Photo by Mark Carpenter –
DP&L’s decision to shutter Adams County’s coal-fired power plants continues to fuel growing concerns about the potential economic impact the closings will have on local communities and institutions.
The DP&L settlement plan, now being considered by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), will not only raise customer rates, but also force closure of the Killen and Stuart power plants, resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs and a steep reduction in tax revenues – both of which threaten the county’s economic stability.
Local officials, without benefit of specialized, high-powered attorneys, are navigating unfamiliar territory in their attempts to make certain that Adams County’s interests are considered in the DP&L settlement.
In late January Adams County Prosecutor David Kelley and local attorney Dana N. Whalen filed a Motion to Intervene in the settlement hearings on behalf of Adams County and five other entities including the Ohio Valley Local School District, the Manchester Local School District, Monroe Township, and Sprigg Township.
The Motion to Intervene focused on the potential economic impact that PUCO’s decision would have on “current and future tax revenues generated from DP&L” and stated that those concerned “want to make sure the interest and rights of the residents are properly heard, considered, and protected throughout these proceedings.”
The question concerning local leaders is how to ensure that Adams County, with its unique dependence on coal, will not have to face decades of economic instability and recovery after the plants are shut down.
The county is not alone in dealing with this issue. Coal dependent communities across Ohio and the nation are working to find sustainable solutions allowing for a smooth transition away from coal-based economies.
According to the Delta Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on energy, ecosystems, and waste solutions, “A community’s ability to make a successful transition is increased when planning begins early in the process, even before a coal plant closes, coal shipments cease, or the coal ash pond is capped.”
Most communities successfully transitioning away from coal dependent economies have engaged every level of government, business, and local community members in the process.
Having that broad-base of support and an effective transition planning process empowers and engages community members invested in a successful outcome.
According to James Kotcon, an Energy Committee Sierra Club Chairman, “Where communities have come together and tried to plan their future, successes happen,” he says, adding “Where there have been problems is where the community is not participating. The board of directors out in some other state makes a decision and you wake up one morning and the gate is closed.”