Aquila is hosting a series of meetings to garner community support for the project before it decides to build. Naysayers were silent, if there were any among the 18 people who attended a recent at State Fair Community College.
Most people, like Frank and Marilyn Archer, of Sedalia, are curious about the project and want more information. Mr. Archer said he thinks the plant seems like a good investment on under-used property. Mrs. Archer said she would like to hear more discussion about the issue to learn about possible opposition.
Aquila representatives have had two other community meetings, talked to several civic groups and met with landowners who live within one to three miles of the proposed plant.
The company is also offering a tour of its South Harper plant near Raymore, which is similar to the one being planned here. Aquila announced that it may build a $150 million power plant on 162 acres of city-owned land on the northwest edge of town, bordered by the wastewater plant and former landfill. Aquila would pay the city $2.6 million for the property. The company proposes making $200,000 annual payments in lieu of taxes for 25 years. That money would be divided among the Pettis County taxing districts. Aquila would pay regular taxes on the depreciated property after the 25-year period.
Those taxes would be distributed among all the Missouri communities Aquila serves. Albert Reine Sr., of Sedalia, has attended nearly every information session. He has also looked at the Greenwood plant near Kansas City and spoken with neighbors there. "I would want one in my backyard," he said.
"There's nothing wrong with it." Reine said he liked that Aquila is having several meetings at different times to give everyone an opportunity to attend. He said the company is "considerate." Most people are interested in emissions, noise, water supply, and potential rate increases due to construction. They've also questioned why Sedalia was chosen as a potential site.
Ivan Vancas, Aquila operating vice president of Missouri electric operations, said residential bills for all of the company's Missouri customers would increase by about $5 a month. "Whether we put it here, or in another community, or buy energy from someplace else - there would still be an increase as a result of it," he said. Aquila met with Sedalia Water Department managers to see if the department's water supply is adequate. Some 240 gallons of water per minute is needed to cool the three to four turbines when all are operating. Vancas said a large storage tank could be used, if needed.
Aquila has no plans to dig a well. Vancas said people would be unable to hear the plant unless they were very close, and the plant would be permitted by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to ensure that emission standards were met. Aquila looked at more than 50 sites in 2006, and found that Sedalia was the best. Vancas said the natural treeline, industrial location and closeness to natural gas and transmission lines were attractive features. Sedalia also has a load center. "Locating this facility next to a load center is really ideal because electricity takes the path of least resistance," Vancas said.