Judge to hear appeal of Kinder Morgan permit

Monday, April 15, 2002

Cape County Commission would ink power project

Business Today

An administrative law judge is scheduled to hear an appeal in May from developers seeking a state permit to build a power plant in Cape Girardeau County.

At issue is a five-month-old appeal by Kinder Morgan Power Co., which wants the Missouri Air Conservation Commission to allow it to build a $300 million electric-generating plant near Crump, Mo.

The company filed the appeal last year after the Missouri Department of Natural Resources refused to grant a permit, citing concern about possible smog-producing emissions.

The hearing was scheduled to begin April 16. It's now been rescheduled to start May 13 at the Governor Hotel state office building in Jefferson City. Administrative law judge John Springborn of St. Louis will preside at the hearing, which is scheduled to last five days.

The judge ultimately will make a recommendation to the Air Conservation Commission which will make the final ruling.

The Cape Girardeau County Commission is ready to roll out the financial welcome mat for the proposed power plant if the project meets state air emission standards.

Gerald Jones, presiding commissioner, said the commission is willing to grant tax breaks to Kinder Morgan Power Co. and issue bonds for the $300 million project if the state grants a permit to build it.

Jones doesn't believe the project poses any environmental concerns. Colorado-based Kinder Morgan wants to build the 550-megawatt plant on Route U between Crump and Whitewater, Mo.

Jones said the county and the Delta School District, primarily, would benefit financially from the project.

Kinder Morgan wouldn't pay property taxes on the plant for 15 years while it paid off the construction bonds. During that time, the company would pay $13.5 million to tax-funded entities. Most of it -- $9.42 million -- would go to the Delta School District.

The proposed agreement also would provide $2.5 million to an economic development fund that would be run by the Cape Girardeau Area Industrial Recruitment Association and $780,000 to the Whitewater Fire Protection District.

The remainder would be divided among the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center, Riverside Regional Library and other tax-funded agencies.

County residents will get a chance to be heard if the state approves the project as the DNR would hold a public hearing, according to Jones. Kinder Morgan also has talked of holding public meetings in Whitewater and Delta to explain the project.

Some area residents are concerned that the power plant might draw down water levels in their wells. Company officials believe the water table is sufficient to handle the needs of the plant and area residents.

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