Citizens for Clean Energy, Inc
Official press release concerning:
The RUS Record of decision issued 5/11/07
RUS DECISION FOR HIGHWOOD PLANT NOT A SLAM DUNK
Great Falls, MT. – The USDA Rural Utility Service (RUS) decision to issue a Record of Decision for the coal-fired Highwood Generating Station is a Record of NO Decision. The RUS has not yet approved any loan funds. The actual dollars that SME needs to build the Highwood plant are contingent on further financial and engineering analysis. This flawed decision still faces serious scrutiny. The RUS Loan Committee must examine the financial merits of the application and determine if Southern Montana Electric will be able to pay back the federal loan for this 250MW plant, with total construction costs recently estimated by RW Beck energy consultants at a staggering $720 million dollars, a huge cost relative to the Highwood’s small energy output.
In addition to further federal analysis, lawsuits filed in the 8th District Court against the plant’s zoning are pending, and the Department of the Interior and USDA must still reach resolution on the integrity of the Lewis and Clark Portage Route National Historic Landmark. Another ‘hurdle’ is the federal budget guidance being negotiated between Congress and the White House for this fiscal year and 2008, as the White House directed that RUS loans NOT be used for funding electrical generating facilities like the Highwood Generating Station. New RUS priorities favor renewable energy and conservation projects over old style coal-fired plants. Congress is working on dozens of ‘clean and green’ energy initiatives that focus on innovative, affordable, and sustainable energy alternatives.
This RUS decision was expected and will certainly be appealed and fought in the courts, an unfortunate but necessary burden for ‘We The People’ against the RUS for its capricious and incompetent decision, especially when they ignored the many requests to address numerous gaps, deficiencies and mistakes in the Final Environmental Impact Statement. Furthermore, the Supreme Court ruling on April 2, 2007, against the EPA deems greenhouse gas a harmful pollutant, and citizens expect the government to enforce this decision.
Wall Street is getting ‘greener’ by the day, and free enterprise and capitalism will ‘steer clear’ of a bad investment that the City of Great Falls continues to advocate in great folly. No serious investor would lend millions of dollars towards this $720 million ‘boondoggle’ when the City of Great Falls only has a fraction of the customers it needs to help pay back the loan for the City’s share of the coal plant.
The Record of Decision is certainly not a ‘slam dunk’ or ‘done deal’ by any means. Citizens in Idaho, Alaska, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, and Missouri have stopped old technology coal plants from being built in their communities, and we will too.
For the official ROD & Air Permit email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 406-444-2544
Copies should also be available at the Great Falls Public Library, UGF and MSU-COT
Record of Decision