12 October 2007
Life after Red Rock
The idea here was simple enough: the state's three major electric providers would pool their resources and build a $1.75-billion plant near Red Rock, a plant big enough to produce 950 megawatts of power, running off comparatively-cheap coal. The plan drew fire almost immediately, not only from coal opponents, but from the likes of Aubrey McClendon at Chesapeake, who complained that it's an Oklahoma plant and ought to be using Oklahoma's gas supplies. (No points for guessing where Chesapeake makes its money.) The Corporation Commission took a dim view of the plant from day one, and yesterday officially denied preapproval, meaning the utilities could not begin recovering costs before the plant was actually built.
According to Assistant AG Bill Humes, the utilities really didn't make their case:
They said the Red Rock plant was the least expensive alternative, but they could never conclusively prove that. There was a great deal of testimony to the contrary. The sad fact is they never presented to the commission the cost of a second alternative.
Or, for that matter, a first alternative.
The vote was 2-1, with Bob Anthony declining to sign the denial but issuing a separate opinion only partly supporting the Red Rock plant. Anthony noted that OG&E would need 300 megawatts of new capacity in the next five years, which is going to have to come from somewhere: the wind farm is up to speed but produces a maximum of 170 MW. PSO, in the same period, will have to come up with 450 MW.
Me, I can't help but wonder if maybe they underestimated the cost of cleaning up after coal: you can't just point the smokestacks upward and hope nothing happens.Posted at 8:00 AM to Soonerland