Area Power Plant Can Operate, But With Extra Rules

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A state commission this week decided the Flint Creek Power Plant in Gentry may stay open as long as it follows additional environmental regulations to operate, according to a statement released by the plant’s owners at Southwest Electric Power Company.

The Arkansas Public Service Commission decided Wednesday that extra environmental controls would be in the best interest of the public. The plant will continue operations at least until April 2016, when it will be required to follow extra guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency. SWEPCO had received a one-year extension to follow the regulations beyond the 2015 deadline previously imposed by the EPA.

Some Benton County officials had been worried concerns about pollution could close the plant, which would have forced customers to seek electricity from elsewhere, said Benton County Judge Bob Clinard. The Arkansas Public Service Commission initially wanted the plant converted to natural gas, Clinard said.

The plan will include installing equipment which will clean the smoke stack to keep pollutants from being released into the air.

“The equipment to be installed includes a scrubber, activated carbon injection, load nitrogen burners, it`s a package of equipment that is designed to run reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide,” SWEPCO spokesman Peter Main told 5NEWS in April.

The regulations are mostly meant to control chemical emissions from the plant, including mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, according to SWEPCO’s statement.

The Flint Creek Power Plant is set to begin construction on the project to institute the controls in January. The project is estimated to cost $408 million.

The changes are expected to cost SWEPCO customers about $2.97 more per month, beginning in 2017. About 300 construction jobs will be created to carry out the project, according to SWEPCO.