biomass

Local News
11:50 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Byline Today: Kentucky's Senate Race, Investigating an Eastern Kentucky Power Plant Plan and More

On Byline today, we'll get an update on the U.S. Senate race, hear about how politics and misinformation pushed through a proposed biomass plant in Eastern Kentucky and much more.

Join us at 1 p.m. today.

First up, WFPL's Phillip M. Bailey will discuss this week's events in the U.S. Senate race, which included a Louisville reporter being barred from a press conference with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and a debate challenge from the senator's primary opponent.

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Environment
1:01 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Would the Eastern Kentucky Biomass Plant be Good for the Environment?

A concrete slab indicates the site of a projected biomass power plant.
Credit Frankie Steele/Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

This story is part of a series from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and WFPL.  Read the other stories here.  

For decades, Eastern Kentucky has been coal country. Coal provided work for thousands, while severance taxes contributed to county budgets. And while the industry has been in a steep decline over the past few years, coal still powers almost all of the electricity for the region and the state.

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Investigations
1:00 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

How Politics, Misinformation and Money Fueled a Power Plant in Kentucky's Coal Country

View from site of projected ecoPower plant, with evidence of strip mining in the distance.
Credit Frankie Steele/Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

HAZARD, Ky.—Up a steep dirt road, atop a former strip-mine, sits a concrete slab roughly 30 feet square. It’s the only visible sign that a wood-burning, electricity-generating plant could someday occupy this remote industrial park.

Supporters say the biomass plant, 11 miles northwest of Hazard, would be an economic godsend for Perry County, creating hundreds of jobs and pumping millions of dollars into the heart of poverty-plagued Appalachian Kentucky.

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Environment
4:02 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

State Regulators Approve Contract to Bring Biomass Energy to Eastern Kentucky

Woody biomass
David Wright Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky regulators have approved a contract between an Eastern Kentucky utility and a proposed biomass plant, despite concerns from the state Attorney General and a consumer group. The biomass energy will replace a small part of the capacity from the coal-fired Big Sandy power plant, which is scheduled to be shut down by 2016.

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Environment
4:04 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

Does a Biomass Plant Make Sense for Eastern Kentucky Ratepayers?

David Wright Wikimedia Commons

The Public Service Commission is scheduled to decide this week whether it will let Kentucky Power enter into a contract to buy all of the electricity produced by a proposed biomass plant in Eastern Kentucky. But the proposal is meeting opposition from groups who say the company doesn’t actually need the electricity to meet demand and the plan would unnecessarily raise rates.

The PSC is tasked with making decisions on the basis of whether both the proposal and possible rate increases are “fair, just and reasonable.” Utilities have to propose options that are reliable and the least-cost option. More than 90 percent of Kentucky’s electricity still comes from coal—though the share of power from natural gas is slowly growing—partly because for years, that’s been the lowest cost option for utilities.

But a bill passed during last year’s General Assembly directs the commissioners to give additional weight to biomass projects. They still have to determine whether the proposal is “fair, just and reasonable,” but applies a standard to biomass that’s different from the standard that’s applied to other types of energy.

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Environment
10:38 am
Tue May 28, 2013

America's New Energy Export Is...Trees?

Σ64 Wikimedia Commons

When we talk about exporting energy sources to other countries, the conversation tends to center on fossil fuels. Here in Kentucky, it's all about coal, and even as the nation cuts back on coal burning, many mines are hoping that burgeoning economies in Asia will help fill in the economic gaps.

But the BBC Newshour had an interesting story this morning about another fuel that America is exporting: wood. Trees that are grown in the Southeast are being sent to Europe to fuel biomass boilers, and there's a debate about whether that process actually helps the European Union further its stated goals of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

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Environment
6:04 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

New Law Clarifies Regulation of Biomass, But Doesn't Provide Any Guarantees

David Wright Wikimedia Commons

A new bill signed into law by Governor Steve Beshear last week clarifies the rules that regulate biomass plants in Kentucky.

The bill gives additional guidance to the Public Service Commission on how to regulate biomass plants that sell power to a utility in Kentucky, with one particular project in mind: a biomass plant outside Hazard. Construction on the plant—owned by Lexington-based ecoPower—is expected to begin on the plant sometime this year.

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Environment
3:33 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

New Deal Will Send Parks Department's Wood Waste to Rubbertown Biomass Boiler

A woodland biomass crop in England.
David Wright Wikimedia Commons

Metro Government will start selling landscaping debris gathered from Louisville parks to a Rubbertown facility that will burn it for energy.

Last fall, a company called Recast Energy took control of a boiler in Rubbertown that supplies steam to the Lubrizol and Zeon Chemical plants. The boiler used to be coal-fired, but Recast engineered it to run on biomass.

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