Sunflower Electric Power Corporation announced Wednesday that the utility will no longer pursue the Holcomb Expansion Project. The corporation will allow the project’s air permit to expire on March 27.
Sunflower and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, which provides wholesale generation and transmission services to its member distribution electric cooperatives, began working together in 2005 to add coal-based units to Sunflower’s Holcomb Station. Both utilities had a need for additional capacity.
“Fifteen years ago, the price of natural gas was high, and wind generation was in its infancy,” Stuart Lowry, president and CEO of Sunflower, said in a news release. “At that time, the expansion of Holcomb Station emerged as the best way to meet our members’ long-term needs for generating reliable, affordable energy.”
According to Sunflower, in 2005, the company filed for a permit for three pulverized coal units, later reduced to two units. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment denied the air permit. However, the company said, in 2009, Sunflower and the state reached a compromise, which included one unit and several environmental initiatives.
“We are not surprised,” said Lona DuVall, president of Finney County Economic Development Corporation. “We’ve anticipated this for years. All of us have resigned ourselves that this would happen. It’s just not a viable opportunity now.”
DuVall said the city was excited when the project was first introduced, but times have changed in the energy field.
“Dating back to 2000, even prior to the Holcomb Expansion Project, Sunflower worked with various project partners to capitalize on the potential operational synergies at Holcomb Station. Sunflower received fees to pursue development opportunities that have allowed us to provide energy to our member cooperatives at a cost otherwise not possible,” Lowry said. “We appreciate our working relationship with Tri-State and our other expansion partners who, like Sunflower, seek solutions to energy challenges that are in the best interest of electric cooperative members.”