Hearings set on coal-fired plant

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Two public hearings will be held Monday in Overland Park to allow comments on a permit for the proposed Sunflower coal-fired power plant near Holcomb.

Sunflower Electric Power Corp. is seeking a permit from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to build an 895-megawatt generator.

Both hearings will be held at Blue Valley Northwest High School, 135th and Switzer streets. The first hearing will begin at 2 p.m. and the second at 6:30 p.m. The public comment period is scheduled to end Aug. 15.

KDHE issued a draft permit to Sunflower for the new plant in June, the latest step in a long approval process.

The new plant would generate enough power to meet the peak electricity demands of 448,000 households, according to one state estimate. Much of the new power would be sold to out-of-state electric cooperatives.

Sunflower has promised construction would create about 1,900 jobs and generate about $121 million in wages over four years. When construction is done, the plant will provide 70 additional jobs for Sunflower and 130 indirect jobs in the region.

Sunflower previously wanted to build two 700-megawatt plants in Finney County. But in October 2007, the state rejected an air quality permit, citing the plants' potential carbon dioxide emissions.

The dispute between the Democratic governor's office and the utility spilled into the Republican-controlled Legislature, which tried unsuccessfully to override the permit denial.

Gov. Mark Parkinson struck a deal with Sunflower in the spring of 2009 to allow one coal-fired plant. Legislators approved the package and the project moved forward.

All comments should be submitted by e-mail to sunflowercomments@kdheks.gov or in writing to: KDHE Bureau of Air, Attn.: Sunflower Comments, 1000 S.W. Jackson, Suite 310, Topeka, KS 66612-1366, or presented at the hearing.

A copy of the draft permit, permit application, supporting documentation, and information relied upon during the permit application review process are available for public review online at www.kdheks.gov/bar.