Ohioans Give Thanks for Cancellation of Dirty, Expensive Coal Plant

NRDC and Sierra Club commend American Municipal Power members for shifting to cleaner and cheaper technologies

CHICAGO (November 25, 2009) - Thanksgiving came early for thousands of Ohioans today, as American Municipal Power announced a long-awaited decision to cancel plans to build a polluting coal-fired power plant in southeast Ohio. The plant had suffered several cost increases and growing public opposition regarding its environmental impact.

The AMP plant was originally proposed in 2006 as a $1.5 billion project that would have provided electricity to municipal utilities across Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia. By late 2009, costs had already increased to approximately $3.9 billion, including financing, while energy demand and market prices had fallen dramatically and efficiency and other alternatives became increasingly available. While the shift to a cleaner fuel source is a positive move, the specter of a 37% increase in cost over the most recent price estimates for the coal plant continue to cast doubt over the plant’s viability.

Meigs County, where the facility would have been located, is already adjacent to four existing coal-fired power plants. One major question remaining is that of economic development and job creation in Meigs County, located in a region of Ohio with higher unemployment and poverty rates than the average.

Following are comments from the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The groups have led the challenge to the Meigs County plant and the permits awarded to it by the Ohio EPA.

"Today, Cleveland and numerous other municipalities throughout Ohio have taken a big stride toward a cleaner energy economy,” said NRDC staff attorney Shannon Fisk. “This is something all Americans can celebrate -- we have all dodged a dirty bullet. Ohio has already undertaken huge energy efficiency programs and a further embrace of clean energy alternatives will create jobs all over the state. We hope we can work with AMP-Ohio in the future to help move these solutions forward.”

“We want to congratulate AMP and its members for making a wise choice for Ohioans’ pocketbooks,” said Nachy Kanfer, a representative of Sierra Club in Ohio. “Not only was the coal plant going to raise people’s electric rates, but it would have added to all the pollution that is making our children sick and roasting our planet. On this Thanksgiving eve, we want to give a big thank-you to AMP leadership for making the right call.”

“This just goes to show that coal is not the fuel of the future, despite what the coal industry may claim,” said Mary Beth Lohse, a Meigs County resident. “This is the first step toward Ohio moving beyond coal and moving toward clean energy.”

“We all hope that AMP can come back with a plan for clean energy generation and locate it in Meigs County,” said Kanfer. “As Ohio moves beyond coal, it’s the southeast portion of the state that is in greatest need of assistance in making that transition. Sierra Club stands firmly behind clean energy developments statewide, and particularly in southeast Ohio.”