After trip, opponents still don't want plant

Saturday, September 1, 2001

JACKSON, Mo. -- Two Cape Girardeau County residents remain wary of Kinder Morgan's plan to build a power plant near their rural homes even after visiting the company's Fort Lupton, Colo., plant.

Sharon Hanning and Cheryl Kieffer, who live near the Route U site of the proposed plant in southwest Cape Girardeau County, joined the Cape Girardeau County Commission and industrial recruiter Mitch Robinson in touring the plant near Denver Thursday. Kinder Morgan Power Co., based in Lakewood, Colo., paid for the trip.

Gerald Jones, presiding county commissioner, said the Colorado plant wasn't as noisy as the delegation had expected and there were few visible emissions.

"It wasn't belching smoke. It wasn't making any racket," said Jones. "There was some steam coming out, but even that was not very visible."

The plant is about two miles from Fort Lupton, which has 5,000 residents. The plant is across the road from a tree farm.

The 272-megawatt, natural-gas- and steam-fueled power plant was built in 1992. It is half the size of the plant the company wants to build south of Crump in Cape Girardeau County. The plant would generate electricity that would be marketed to utility companies and distributed via a nearby AmerenUE substation.

The county commission is considering issuing bonds and providing tax breaks to Kinder Morgan to develop the $250 million, 550-megawatt plant. The company would pay back the bonds.

"I think all of us certainly understand the project much better," Jones said Friday after making the trip to Colorado.

Kinder Morgan officials said the show-and-tell was worth it. "I think it went a long way toward fostering better communication," said company spokesman Rick Rainey.

Jones said cars driving by the Colorado plant made more noise than the turbines.

Noise a concern

But Kieffer said the plant noise couldn't be ignored. "From a mile away we could hear it constantly. It was a rumble. Right at the plant, it was very difficult to hear" anything else.

Kieffer and Hanning welcomed the chance to see a Kinder Morgan power plant in operation. But the trip didn't eliminate their fears about locating a power plant in Cape Girardeau County. They worry that the plant will pollute the air, draw down their wells and wreck the rural landscape.

The two women are members of a loosely knit group of Cape Girardeau County residents known as Cape Citizens Against Pollution that has been formed in response to the proposed power plant.

Hanning lives near Burfordville, about four miles northeast of the proposed plant site. She likes the area because it is so isolated and quiet.

"If you don't like coyotes, don't move out here," she said. "That's about the only thing you can hear at night."

Hanning said she doesn't want a power plant with 95-foot-tall stacks ruining the landscape. "I don't like to see industry move into an agricultural area. As far as I am concerned, they can stick to the industrial areas in Jackson or Cape Girar-deau," she said.

Water worries

Like many residents in the Crump and Whitewater areas, Hanning worries that the proposed plant would use so much water that it would draw down water in her well and those of her neighbors.

"They can show me all the paper data and drilling data that shows we have enough water to last forever, but I am not going to believe it," said Hanning.

Kieffer worries that erecting a power plant will lead to further industrial development in the rolling farm land. She's concerned that the plant will pollute the air.

Seeing the Colorado plant in operation with its nearly invisible emissions didn't alleviate her concern. "What comes out of the stack may be invisible, but it can still be pollution," she said.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is concerned too. The agency says it won't grant the company a construction permit to build the plant unless it installs equipment to reduce smog-generating emissions, reduces the planned hours of operation or turns to a different type of generating system.

Kinder Morgan is appealing to the state's Air Conservation Commission in an effort to move forward with the project.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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