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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Progress Energy seeks new approach

Progress seeks new strategy

ASHEVILLE — Progress Energy said Wednesday that officials realize the proposed power plant in Woodfin was perceived in the public as a done deal, and they may take a different approach with similar deals.
Progress Energy spokesman Ken Maxwell said while the company publicly announced a $1-per-year lease on public land to build the oil-burning power plant and there were numerous occasions for public input, the building of the $72 million “peak” power plant was seen as certain by many people in the community.
“We may look at this differently in the future,” Maxwell said.

The utility’s response came after a Woodfin board voted last week to deny Progress Energy a conditional-use permit for the 130-megawatt plant that would serve about 150,000 power customers during peak demand periods.
Many residents spoke in opposition to the plant at the board meeting, saying it was harmful to people’s health and the environment, and would cause property values to drop.
Progress Energy said the plant is needed to replace power that the company now buys from another utility provider and that it has to build the plant in order to provide reliable power to the region.
Progress Energy representatives said they have not yet decided if they will appeal the ruling in court, go back to the board with new information or look at building the plant elsewhere.
The company has 30 days from the April 2 ruling to appeal the board’s decision. Even with a successful appeal, Progress still must win an air quality permit and prove need for the plant before the Utilities Commission in the fall.

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