On Wednesday, March 27, 2013, CFACT led a petition drive at The University of Arkansas Fayetteville campus. The petition drive was held in anticipation of the Arkansas Public Service Commission hearing held on March 28th to determine the fate of the Flint Creek Coal Power Plant, which provides base load power to Northwest Arkansas.
Recently, the EPA placed new regulations on facilities that provide energy using coal. Due to these regulations, a number of plants across the country have either ceased operations or have put a plan into place to close in the near future. SWEPCO and AECC, who oversee and operate the Flint Creek plant, have developed a plan to retrofit the plant in order to meet the new EPA standards, but now require approval from the state to do so.
The retrofit plan is, however, facing opposition. The Sierra Club, an organization that undoubtedly supports these new regulations, is opposed to the plant’s attempt to meet them. Instead the Sierra Club hopes to block the retrofit plan and remove the only base load power supply for Northwest Arkansas. They claim to favor transitioning the facility to a natural gas plant, despite their opposition to fracking, the very process that makes natural gas affordable. SWEPCO and AECC have already made it clear the Flint Creek plant will not transition to natural gas, so instead Northwest Arkansas will have to rely on a plant in Oklahoma to keep the lights on.
Students at the University of Arkansas were happy to sign a petition expressing their opposition to the Sierra Club’s attempts to take jobs, prosperity, and power out of Arkansas. After collecting the petitions CFACT supporters went to Little Rock to testify before the Public Service Commission on behalf of Flint Creek’s retrofit plan. The commission’s decision is still pending.