Three things must happen before the Sierra Club will withdraw its appeal of City Water, Light and Power’s construction permit for its new power plant, representatives of the environmental group told the Springfield City Council’s utilities committee Wednesday: Web extra: Read the ordinances
# Aldermen must pass three ordinances sponsored by Ward 7 Ald. Judy Yeager that mirror the terms of the city’s now-voided deal with the Sierra Club. The main difference is that the ordinances would not represent an enforceable contract.
# The council must sign a contract to purchase 120 megawatts of wind power, another
provision of the original agreement. Bids for the wind power are expected by the end of the week.
# The city must ask to amend its Illinois Environmental Protection Agency permit so the agency can enforce stricter power plant emission limits than currently required. This would take a fourth ordinance that has not yet been drafted.
Yeager’s three ordinances, which were held in the utilities committee and will not be voted on at Tuesday’s council meeting, would order CWLP to buy wind power, boost the utility’s conservation efforts and set lower levels for emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, mercury, particulate matter and sulfuric acid mist.The hotly debated Sierra Club deal was nullified this month when developer David Maulding filed an objection to the power plant’s construction permit issued by the IEPA, arguing that the agency acted outside its authority when it allowed the requirements of the Sierra Club deal to be added. Under the terms of the deal, Maulding’s appeal automatically voided the agreement.
Maulding, too, has set conditions for withdrawing his objections, saying he will do so only if the U.S. Environmental Appeals Board affirms that the original deal really is dead, and the Sierra Club withdraws its appeal first.
The Sierra Club has said it will only withdraw its appeal when the principles of the original deal are restored.
Yeager’s ordinances were held in committee Wednesday because she could not attend, CWLP general manager Todd Renfrow said in an interview afterward. Renfrow said he hoped the ordinances could be discussed and sent to the full council at the next utilities meeting Oct. 11.
Yeager’s ordinances are “an opportunity to get us back on track as quickly as possible,” Bruce Nilles, a Sierra Club lawyer and director of its Midwest clean energy campaign, told the committee.
Renfrow thinks aldermen should pass the ordinances but said that it is up to the city council to give him direction. “I assume she’s talking to other aldermen about her ordinances,” he said. “I know there’s some who don’t like wind.”
While dropping the hard push he and Mayor Tim Davlin made for the original Sierra Club deal, Renfrow continued to maintain that each day the city is delayed in starting construction of the power plant costs “an awful lot of money.”
The wind power ordinance to be considered includes the controversial provision requiring the city to build its own wind farm if no purchase agreement can be reached by June 1, 2010. Renfrow said Wednesday he thought that provision could be removed.
Ward 2 Ald. Frank McNeil asked Nilles whether passage of the ordinances would be enough to get the Sierra Club to withdraw its appeal.
Nilles said the group needs further assurances – CWLP inking a long-term wind deal and empowering the IEPA to enforce stricter emission limits than are in the stripped-down permit – before it will drop its appeal.
That statement drew the ire of Ward 5 Ald. Joe Bartlomucci, who said his recollection – which is shared by several other aldermen – was that the Sierra Club had agreed to butt out of the process altogether if any objections to the permit were filed.
“Why are you here?” Bartlomucci asked.
Nilles responded that the only promise the Sierra Club made was that it would not appeal as long as the original deal remained intact. He has noted that if all the aldermen did was pass Yeager’s ordinances, a future city council could simply repeal them.
In its appeal, the Sierra Club contends the version of the permit not containing the provisions of its deal with the city does not comply with the federal Clean Air Act. Among its objections to the stripped-down permit are that the city should have done more to limit emissions and consider conservation and alternative energy sources when it sought to build the new, coal-fired generator.
Ward 1 Ald. Frank Edwards said the city’s permit does comply with the Clean Air Act. “Your agreement may make it cleaner, but we still meet the permit process,” he told Nilles.
By Chris Wetterich, Staff Writer
Chris Wetterich can be reached at 788-1523 or chris.wetterich @sj-r.com.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding