Texas Judge Recommends Regulators Reject Arkansas Coal-Fired Plant

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A Texas administrative law judge has recommended that regulators reject a Southwestern Electric Power Co. plan to build a $1.3 billion coal-fired power plant in southwest Arkansas that also would serve Texas customers.

The written recommendation said SWEPCO wrongly calculated future demand for electricity among its customers in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.  It said the company failed to prove the proposed 600-megawatt John W. Turk plant near Texarkana would be needed.

The Texas commission has scheduled a February 22 meeting to discuss the recommendation.

SWEPCO has said it plans to build the plant, regardless of whether Texas grants the "certificate of need."  The company hopes to complete the project in 2011.

Last year, the Arkansas Public Service Commission found by a 2-1 vote that the plant would be "environmentally compatible" and said the project could proceed on a site near Fulton.  The PSC also set certain conditions on the project to address environmental concerns.

Meanwhile, SWEPCO continues to seek permit approval from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and from Louisiana regulators.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)