Coal plant hearings stop, press release flood begins

Shortly after a State Office of Administrative Hearings judge in Austin announced today a four-month delay in hearings over TXU’s plans for six new coal-fired power plants, the stream of statements from the battling parties began. Here are a few that showed up in our in boxes (so far).
From Randy Eminger, South Region Vice President of the Center for Energy and Economic Development, a non-profit funded by the coal, rail, and utility industries:

“It is important the hearings to permit new coal-fueled power plants proceed without delay because our state’s rapidly growing population is demanding an ever-increasing supply of electricity. We will need 63 percent more electricity by 2025 – an additional 46,700 megawatts of power. Electric utilities invest over $80 million annually in Texas for energy efficiency measures, but demand for electricity continues to increase. Unless we take the appropriate steps now to keep pace with that demand, we will wake up in the near future to a crippled economy and a diminished quality of life.”

From Ken Kramer, the Texas Sierra Club’s director.

“The Sierra Club is pleased with the decision of the state’s administrative law judges to delay the contested case hearings on several of TXU’s proposed coal-fired power plants. The problems with the Governor’s attempt to fast track these permit proceedings were dramatically demonstrated in the difficulty experienced by all of the parties attempting to prepare for these contested cases in such a compressed time frame. The public interest would have been ill-served by the rushed nature of this process. ….. The effort for a moratorium through legislation will continue, however, because we need to address not just the time frame for the permitting process but other issues such as technology choices, cumulative impacts of air emissions from the plants, and cleaner alternative energy choices before proceeding with decisions on these plants.”

From Jim Marston, regional director of Environmental Defense:

“We commend the administrative judges for applying the brakes to the TXU steamroller. We obviously think TXU’s building blitz should be delayed permanently, but we’re happy to have 120 extra days to line up our expert witnesses and prepare our briefs. The delay also shows that even the State Office of Administrative Hearings is not comfortable with a compressed schedule. It’s an enormous case, and environmental watchdog groups like ours will put the four months to good use.”

A statement TXU spokeswoman Kim Morgan gave the Associated Press in Austin:

“We’re obviously disappointed in this decision. Every day of delay means that meeting the goal of providing newer, cleaner power generation is denied.”

And Gov. Perry’s spokesman Robert Black:

“No one should be surprised that a single liberal Austin judge would rule against Gov. Perry and his efforts to increase energy capacity in Texas. We will take a close look at the ruling and make a determination on how we will proceed.”