County urges delay in OK of GRU plant

The city is scheduled to vote on GRU's proposed plant on Jan. 31.


Published: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 11:38 p.m.
The Alachua County Commission wants its concerns about a proposed Gainesville Regional Utilities power plant addressed before the City Commission takes the next step to authorize the project - a vote that is set for Jan. 31.
County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to request the delay after the commission's Environmental Protection Department explained four issues of concern that remain with GRU's proposed 220-megawatt plant.
Those concerns center on potential health effects and the emission levels of carbon dioxide, metals and mercury.
"We have some greenhouse gas issues. There is going to be a significant increase if this coal plant is built," said John Mousa, county pollution prevention manager. "The county comprehensive plan has an air quality goal of a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gases over the next decade, so this is of concern to us. We need to try to avoid the generation of greenhouse gases."
GRU is proposing to build a power plant that will primarily burn coal along with some biomass such as wood. GRU also would make pollution control improvements to the existing Deerhaven plant. The new generator is needed to provide power for the next several decades, and the estimated cost is $535 million, according to GRU. The county's Environmental Protection Advisory Committee has numerous concerns with the plan. Some of its members also requested that a City Commission vote on the plan be delayed until the concerns are addressed.
City commissioners on Jan. 31 are scheduled to consider giving GRU approval to start the design process. It is expected to take almost five years for designs, engineering, permitting and construction.
Cindy Swirko can be reached at 374-5024 or swirkoc@gvillesun.com

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