County leaders demand answers from DP&L, state legislators –
By Patricia Beech –
Adams County has found an unexpected ally in its efforts to forestall the closing of its two coal-fired power plants. The company that supplies coal to the Stuart and Killen plants is hoping to intercede to keep the two from being shuttered.
Murray Energy Corporation, the largest underground coal mining company in North America, filed a motion on Tuesday, Feb. 14 with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to intervene in the pending settlement of Dayton Power & Light’s Electric Security Plan (ESP) which calls for the plants’ closure.
Murray Energy claims that before DP&L’s January announcement, the company had been working to keep the two power plants open through 2026 and stated that the closing of the plants would hurt business, in addition to negatively impacting Ohio employees and losing “substantial revenue”.
In their filing the coal
company states, “As the Commission is fully aware, coal-fired, base load electric generation has been a cornerstone of the state of Ohio’s ability to supply safe, reliable and affordable electric energy to its citizens for generations,” adding that the settlement’s Stipulation and Recommendation not only “subverts this critical, reliable cornerstone of Ohio’s sound energy policy”, but also has failed to “address the staggering Adverse Closure Effects being unloaded upon Murray Energy and the citizens of Ohio. Rather, it focuses primarily on serving the private self-interests of the parties to the agreement, many of which, including Sierra Club, appear to stand ready to receive substantial payments under the self-serving agreement.”
Officials at the Murray Company, as well as local government officials in Adams County, believe they have not been properly represented in the PUCO proceedings.
“We’re trying our best to get answers,” Mike Pell, President of the First State Bank told Scott Sloan of WLW Radio. “As community leaders we have reached out to DP&L and frankly, not until Commissioner Brian Baldridge stood up at a public meeting in Columbus on Feb. 1 – we were getting nowhere in our efforts to understand what DP&L’s long range plans are for our community.”
Pell said a meeting with DP&L officials was planned for next week.
Likening the impact of the plant closings to DHL’s departure from Wilmington – a move which devastated the local economy, Pell said, “We’ve got a storm brewing and it’s going to be here very soon. In June 2018 we’re going to lose our largest private employer by at least 50 percent, and we’re going to lose approximately $45 million in property tax revenue and salaries.”
Many county officials and leaders share Murray Energy’s goal to delay the plant closings. “Our main goal is to get a little more life out of these plants over a period of time,” said Pell. “Frankly, there is no legislation or plans in place to decommission the plants, and DP&L controls 5,500 acres in Adams County and seven miles of Ohio River front property, and as far as we know, they’re going to lock the gate – that will be devastating for Adams County.”
According to Power Magazine, “There is no legal requirement to demolish an old power plant management typically chooses not to spend significant money to decommission a site. Developers may purchase a site as-is and bear the decommissioning costs in exchange for a lower purchase price, or the government may step in with economic development incentives to decommission and redevelop sites and create jobs.
Thus far, Ohio legislators have taken no action requiring that companies properly decommission their coal-fired plants. Nor have they passed legislation to ensure coal-dependent communities like Adams County are provided opportunities for steady economic recovery in a post-coal world.
“We’re a small community – only 28,000 folks,” said Pell in his radio interview. “We’re working very hard to raise awareness among our legislators and others about what is going on in Adams County – not only is the financial impact on our community going to be huge, but the environmental problem we’ll eventually be left with will be devastating to for many years to come.”