The Oklahoma Corporation Commission Monday implied it would reject an application by Oklahoma Gas and Electric to build a $1.87 billion dollar coal-fired electric plant.
During deliberations in instructing staff to prepare an order, the commission indicated that such an order " to be issued possibly by next week " would reject the plant, which was proposed by OG&E to boost Oklahoma's baseline electric power generation statewide.
"It will deny the application," said Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner. "How it does it depends on the language."
Skinner said the commission has not yet formally voted on the matter, but that the commissioners indicated their vote by their instructions.
Chesapeake Energy, which voiced strong opposition to the coal plant through a media onslaught in newspapers, television and at public meetings through its CEO Aubrey McClendon (pictured), issued a statement lauding the commission's decision.
"We are certainly pleased with today's ruling at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission denying the application for a coal-fired power plant," the release stated. "We know the decision was reached after a thoughtful, thorough and fair review of the economics and environmental facts. This certainly is great news for all Oklahomans and bodes well for future generations of Oklahomans."
However, Skinner said, the issue was not decided on the coal vs. natural gas debate, but rather on whether OG&E and Tulsa's PSO electric utilities had properly demonstrated the need for the plant.
"The commissioners made it very clear from the bench that the issue was not natural gas vs. coal," Skinner said. "The issues, among the biggest, were, did the evidence support that the power would be needed, and did the evidence support that all alternatives had been explored and that Red Rock was the best possible answer? The commissioners made it clear that as to the second question, the answer would be no." -Ben Fenwick