In February, a plan to build 11 new power plants operating on coal in Texas ran into a slick, hard-hitting and savvy campaign against it " the "Clean Sky Coalition."
Although several companies are said to have funded the million-dollar campaign, the one that garnered much of the focus was Chesapeake Energy Corp.
In a series of hearings in front of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and in a high-profile lawsuit before the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Chesapeake co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon recently proclaimed his opposition to Oklahoma Gas and Electric's plan for a coal-fired plant at Red Rock, expected to cost in excess of $1 billion to build.
"Why do we want to embrace something that's going to make full emission attainment standards harder?" McClendon said. "Having this plant is going to make it easier to attain those standards? Of course not, it's going to make it harder. Will it enhance the value of Oklahoma's natural resources, natural gas? How does a coal-fired plant create wealth in Oklahoma? The reality is, it doesn't."
OG&E spokesman Paul Renfrow said it's uncomfortable to be at odds with one of the state's premier energy producers.
"This is awkward, it really is. Oklahoma is a small business community and we are both in the energy industry," Renfrow said. "It's not often we are on opposite sides of an issue, but on this one we are."
Renfrow said Oklahoma would, by the year 2011, need new "base load generation" of electricity.
"We have no fuel preference whatsoever. Coal, gas, no preference whatsoever. We have a job. And our job is to forecast what Oklahoma's electricity needs are going to be," Renfrow said.
After looking at nuclear and wind, that leaves coal and gas, he said. "Ben Fenwick
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