A company says it will keep building a coal-fired power plant in southwest Arkansas, even though it no longer has a permit showing the plant is needed. It's the latest move for SWEPCO in its legal fight with environmentalists and landowners.
SWEPCO wanted the Arkansas Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling last month that said the utility had to start the "need for permit" process over again. The high court declined so the utility giant is going another route with environmental groups setting up the blockade.
Artistic renderings show what the John W Turk coal-fired power plant will look like when it's done. Despite recent legal setbacks, the company told the Public Service Commission Thursday it won't try for a permit reflecting the need for the power in Arkansas.
Instead the utility says another state law allows it to keep building in Arkansas, and sell the power to customers outside of Arkansas.
"That's saying that even SWEPCO believes there is not a need for this plant," Lev Guter with Sierra Club says. "This is by no means a done deal."
Guter says the Sierra Club is opposing both air and water permits SWEPCO still needs and that more legal action is likely.
"It's a risky venture that SWEPCO is speculating on to see if there's going to be a big payout in the end and there are miles of hurdles to go before that happens," Guter says.
One billion dollars has already been poured into the 600-megawatt plant that is just 28 percent complete.
And Attorney Chuck Nestrudrepresenting of the Hempstead County Hunting Club, the same landowners who won at the supreme court versus the utility giant, had this to say:
“SWEPCO’s latest scheme, is as wrong as it's first one and demonstrates that SWEPCO’s plan has always been to build a coal plant in Arkansas for it's Texas customers, at the expense of the Arkansas environment. That is offensive,” Nestrud says.