Power plant company offers millions to build

Friday, March 15, 2002

Business Today

JACKSON -- Developers of a proposed power plant in southwest Cape Girardeau County have promised millions of dollars in payments to a small school district and a rural fire district if the plant is built.

The promises were made in closed-door meetings in late February involving the Cape Girardeau County Commission. The two meetings were called by officials with Kinder Morgan Power Co.

At stake is $13.5 million in promised payments to tax-funded entities over the next 15 years, including $9.42 million for the Delta School District and $780,000 to the small Whitewater Fire District. The rest would go to entities such as the county Health Department, senior centers and others with countywide levies. County and Kinder Morgan officials said those payments still are being worked out.

County officials are looking to get some money from Kinder to help finance the paving of the gravel section of Nash Road that extends from an industrial area near the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport west to Highway 77.

But it's all for naught unless the state grants a construction permit for the plant that KinderMorgan wants to build just west of Route U between Crump and Whitewater in the rural hills of southwest Cape Girardeau County.

The DNR has refused to issue a permit without design changes to reduce smog-producing emissions.

Kinder Morgan has appealed to the Missouri Air Conservation Commission. The appeal is still pending five months after the DNR officially rejected plans for the power plant.

John Gibson, site development director for the Colorado-based electric power company, said he hopes to have a written agreement to the County Commission very soon.

Gibson said he wants to have the agreement in place so work can proceed if and when the state grants the construction permit.

Under the agreement, the county would issue bonds to fund construction of the $300 million, 550-megawatt plant. Kinder Morgan would pay off the bonds over 15 years. During that time, the company would make payments to the school district and other entities but wouldn't pay real estate and personal property taxes. At the end of 15 years, the plant would go on the tax rolls.

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