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Plans for coal-fired Tenaska power plant near Sweetwater are dead

Published On: Jun 21 2013 04:26:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 21 2013 09:37:47 PM CDT
Tenaska
SWEETWATER, Texas -

Plans for a proposed coal-fired power plant near Sweetwater are dead.

Tenaska Inc. has dropped plans to build facilities in Illinois and Texas because of poor market economics for new coal plants.

In a news release, Tenaska officials said the company will focus its efforts on "ongoing development of natural gas-fueled and renewable facilities to customers across the nation."

Tenaska’s proposed Trailblazer facility near Sweetwater faced a number of hurdles, including scarcity of water.

“A number of market and policy changes have occurred since then, all of which have contributed to our belief that these projects are no longer viable,” Tenaska President of Development Dave Fiorelli said in the release.

“We take a conservative approach to development, working to ensure projects will have a long-term market for their power before we begin construction. That approach has and continues to serve us well, even as markets and policies change, but it means sometimes we have to make difficult business decisions.”

According to Fiorelli, these changing factors include:

  • an increase in the supply of natural gas;
  • a significant decrease in the price of natural gas;
  • the reduced cost of renewable power;
  • and for the Trailblazer Energy Center, a lack of federal law or regulatory policies that would provide a sufficient foundation for the commercial-scale clean coal project to move forward.

In response, environmentalists issued a news release.

“Coal is a bad bet for utilities everywhere, and after years of fighting the inevitable, Tenaska learned this the hard way,” said Bruce Nilles, Senior Director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign.

“The cost of coal will continue to rise as clean energy, especially Texas wind, gets cheaper and cheaper,” Nilles said. “In the last year, three proposals for dirty, expensive, water-guzzling facilities have been cancelled.  Only one new coal plant has broken ground in the last five years. Coal is the energy source of the past.”

Whitney Root, the leader of local opposition group Texans Against Tenaska, said the proposed West Texas plant never made sense.

“Not only would it have taken precious water from our families, farmers and local businesses, but it would have sucked up our tax dollars and left us with nothing but pollution,” Root said. “There is no such thing as clean coal and I am thrilled to know that our local efforts have paid off in dispelling this myth.  Many thanks to everyone who dedicated their time and efforts to this fight; I am forever grateful.”