OK Greens speak against Red Rock coal-fired power plant

Journal Record cover on coal plant

GPOK members Jean McMahon and Huti Reynolds have been in contact with the Eco Action Committee of the Green Party since they heard from the Oklahoma Sustainability Network last January that a 950-megawatt coal-fired power plant was in the works to be built at Red Rock, Oklahoma.

They got support and resources from a great group called the National Energy Justice Network, the only national group dedicated to no more coal plants.

July 1, they heard from James Branum, GPOK state Secretary, and Fannie Bates, an Oklahoma City activist:

What is arguably the most important environmental decision made by/for the current generation of Oklahomans is about to happen and I am, as usual, amazed/chagrined that it is going virtually unnoticed. First the immediate facts which OG&E has made public:

On Monday, July 2 and Tuesday July 3, Oklahoma Gas & Electric will be before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission seeking pre-approval to build a new coal-fired power plant at the existing Sooner Power Plant near Red Rock, Oklahoma. The hearings begin at 8:30 a.m. and will be held in Courtroom 301 on the third floor of the Jim Thorpe Building at 2101 N. Lincoln in OKC. The proceedings will be adjourned for the July 4th holiday and will reconvene on Monday, July 9. All interested parties may appear at the hearings to make public comments.

It proposes to build what it “contends” (OG&E’s language)is a “state-of-the- art” 950 megawatt coal-fired power plant in collaboration with PSO (Public Service Company of Okla.) and the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority (OMPA). These three entities will share costs and ownership of the plant (OG&E 42%, PSO 50%, and OMPA 8%), which is estimated to cost approximately $1.8 billion to build. OG&E will build the plant and operate it when it is complete.

According to OG&E, rate changes to recover the cost will be phased in from 2007 to 2012-average cost per month increase for OG&E customers is estimated to be “a cumulative total” of $4.66 per month.

OG&E lists the following contact information regarding the application: OG&E at 1-800-272-9741. The Commission’s web site is http://www.occeweb. com or you can send written comments addressed to:
OG&E Red Rock Approval
c/o Office of General Counsel
Oklahoma Corporation Commission
P.O. Box 52000
Oklahoma City, OK 73152-2000

The Chairman of the Corporation Commission is Jeff Cloud. Bob Anthony and Jim Roth are the other two commissioners. Their address is as above.

So Huti and Jean rushed down to Oklahoma City on July 2. The OG&E lawyer noticed their Green Party T-shirts and spoke with them, as did the judge, “for some time,” Jean reports.

“I think the main point is, however she (the judge) decides, it will be contested. She apologized that public comments had been postponed for that day.”

Jean and Huti returned the following Monday for the public portion of the hearing — Jean in her famous polar bear suit that got some media attention. “We made our public statements. I believe it was useful for the Green Party to get info out via the media that environmental groups in Oklahoma do oppose coal-fired plants Our fellow citizens may think everyone loves coal by listening to the corporate press.”

Here is statement from the Green Party:

The U.S. is blessed with tremendous renewable energy potential, enough to meet the entire electric demand of the country. We call for a Manhattan Project-level of commitment to developing clean renewable energy technologies—technologies that do not create pollution in the course of generating electricity. These can include wind, solar, ocean power, geothermal, and small-scale hydro. Since even clean renewable energy can have negative environmental impacts, care must be taken to minimize such impacts. Clean renewable energy does not include nuclear power, any sort of combustion or process in which by-products are ultimately combusted, or hydroelectric dams that block entire rivers.

The period for public input closes July 23. It is unknown when the decision will be made.

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