Ameren Missouri is seeking permission from the Missouri Public Service Commission to build a coal-ash landfill at its Labadie power plant in Franklin County.
The landfill, which is proposed to be located next to the coal-fired Labadie plant, was challenged in a lawsuit filed against Franklin County.
Associate Circuit Judge Robert Schollmeyer recently ruled in the county’s favor, stating that the county commission has the authority to adopt zoning codes to allow landfills.
Now, Ameren has taken the next step in the process and is seeking a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the PSC.
Ameren wants to expand the boundaries of the Labadie Energy Center by 813 acres to allow the construction and operation of the landfill to store ash that is generated from burning coal.
Ameren filed its application last week.
The power company wants the PSC to approve its application by Dec. 31 so construction on the landfill can start in 2014.
Ameren still must have engineering and design plans approved and obtain an operating permit from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources before building the facility.
Ameren wants to build the landfill because its two coal ash storage ponds are nearing capacity.
The county commission in 2011 amended its land-use regulations to allow for the coal ash landfill.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit were a group of Labadie property owners, who called themselves the Labadie Environmental Organization (LEO). They argued that coal ash is toxic and should not be stored in a floodplain near drinking water.
The plaintiffs have vowed to appeal Judge Schollmeyer’s ruling.
LEO President Patricia Schuba could not be reached for comment on Ameren’s application to the PSC.
Ameren officials say the amount of coal ash generated by the plant fluctuates, but court documents from the lawsuit state that the plant has generated about 500,000 tons of ash annually.
The landfill will be built out over 15-20 years with a total capacity of 15.5 million cubic yards, the company’s application to the Public Service Commission states.
The landfill is expected to meet disposal needs for 24 years.
Phase one of the project is expected to cost $27 million. It is unclear if a rate increase will be required to cover the costs.
Ameren officials say that construction costs cannot be recovered through a rate increase until the landfill is in service in 2016. If a rate increase is sought, it would have to be reviewed by the Public Service Commission.
Ameren has maintained that the location is ideal for the landfill because residential development is not planned for the site. The location is surrounded by agricultural property, according to Ameren.
Moreover, Ameren’s response to the lawsuit stated that there is no evidence that such a coal-ash landfill would pose a health risk.
Those wishing to comment on Ameren’s application to the PSC may contact the Office of Public Counsel, P.O. Box 2230, Jefferson City, MO 65102 or call 1-866-922-2959 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments can also be made through the PSC website, www.psc.mo.gov. The case number is No. EA-2012-0281.