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Court decision empowers Kentucky biomass energy development

Authorizes biomass power as source of energy in commonwealth

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 27, 2015) — Judge Thomas D. Wingate and the Franklin County Circuit Court on Feb. 18 strongly affirmed the Kentucky Public Service Commission’s order dating back to 2013, authorizing biomass power as a new source of energy in the commonwealth.

KPSC logoJudge Wingate upheld the PSC’s approval of a 20-year power purchase contract between Kentucky Power Company and ecoPower Generation LLC. With this contract, ecoPower can move ahead to build and run a biomass energy plant in Perry County. The facility would generate electricity by burning biomass materials such as sawdust, bark, wood chips, tipwood, and low quality logs.   Because trees grow and replenish themselves, the government classifies this form of energy as renewable

The Kentucky Industrial Utilities Customers, Inc., a nonprofit organization of manufacturers that would be affected by changes to the cost of electric service, argued unsuccessfully that the PSC failed to apply the “fair, just, and reasonable” legal standard with respect to approving utility rates in this contract. KIUC has until March 20 to seek further review by the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

The Judge upheld the PSC’s assertion that the rates are reasonable and are consistent with the intent of the state legislature. “It is in the best interest of the commonwealth to induce the location of innovative energy-related business in the commonwealth in order to advance the public purposes of achieving energy independence, creating new jobs and new investment, and creating new sources of tax revenues,” the order stated.

ecoPower’s website boasts an annual economic impact of more than $18 million and estimates that 200 construction jobs will be created. It also says that once operational, the plant will sustain over 500 jobs in the area of operations and fuel supply, and additional jobs in timber harvesting and transportation.