Along with the three groups, additional plaintiffs to the complaint include Kentucky author Wendall Berry, Father John Rausch of Powell County and Dr. John Patterson of Estill County. The PSC is not under any deadlines to issue a decision in the matter.
East Kentucky Power is seeking to build the 268-megawatt plant at J.K. Smith Station in Trapp. Those plans have been underway for years, but the cooperative has struggled to obtain financing and is awaiting a permit from the Kentucky Division of Air Quality.
EKPC officials hope to have the $766 million project complete by 2013.
In the meantime, opponents are mounting an intense campaign of legal challenges and public criticism. Opposition has mostly focused on the health and environmental impacts on coal-based power generation — much of which was rehashed during a press conference Thursday to announce the complaint.
Following the conference, EKPC spokesman Nick Comer reiterated the cooperative's stance that the Smith plant remains the best option for meeting demand in EKPC's member system.
"We believe that clearly there is a need for Smith Unit 1 today," Comer said. "East Kentucky Power Cooperative is a couple hundred of megawatts below its baseload demand."
Comer acknowledged that growth in demand has remained flat over a year of mild temperatures and economic downturns. Still, he said, the plant is designed to meet demand decades into the future. Today, EKPC achieves about 180 megawatts of energy savings through efficiency programs — a number the cooperative plans to double over the next ten years, Comer said.
But claims by opponents that demand can be met by replacing the plant with efficiency and renewable programs are fundamentally flawed, he said.
"While efficiency and conservation and renewables and alternative fuels and alternative technologies are going to be very important going forward, so will coal," said Comer. "In terms of continuing to provide our members with reliable, affordable power, coal will continue to be part of the mix."
Contact Mike Wynn at firstname.lastname@example.org