Sierra Club targets Owensboro’s Elmer Smith coal plant in Kentucky

The latest coal plant with a bullseye painted on it by the Sierra Club is the Elmer Smith plant in Kentucky of Owensboro Municipal Utilities, with the club’s Beyond Coal campaign recently launching print and online ads to call for the retirement of the nearly 50-year-old plant in Daviess County, Ky.

“Owensboro Municipal [Utilities] isn’t factoring in the health costs with its overall costs of continuing to burn coal at Elmer Smith,” said Rick Fowler, an Owensboro resident and chair of the Pennyrile Group of the Sierra Club’s Cumberland Chapter, in an Aug. 30 statement. “The community needs to kick coal out of the neighborhood. It’s time for Owensboro to join the 21st century and protect Daviess county from the harmful effects of strip mining and coal burning. We should learn from our Ohio and Indiana neighbors that are enjoying a boom of employment in renewable energy.”

Owensboro Municipal Utilities owns the plant and is also contracting to buy coal from a proposed strip mine site in Daviess County, the club claimed, which destroys the community’s air quality and further sickens residents. These ads are part of larger organizational efforts to retire Elmer Smith.

OMU’s Elmer Smith plant consists of two units with a combined capacity of 425 MW. The facility burns about 1.25 million tons of coal per year. U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows that coal suppliers earlier this year included the Joe’s Run mine of Western Kentucky Minerals, the Somerville mine in Indiana of Peabody Energy and the Midway Coal Handling Facility in western Kentucky of Armstrong Coal.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.