WATERLOO - Proponents and opponents of a proposed $1.3 billion coal-fired power plant planned for Waterloo are gearing up for a fight when public hearings begin.
Iowa DNR officials have yet to begin reviewing the application or set a time line for the hearings about the plant.
The proposed 750-megawatt Elk Run Energy Station would burn cleaner than existing coal-fired power plants in Cedar Falls and places in western Iowa, but opponents of the plant say the area can ill afford to add potentially harmful pollutants to the air.
The New Jersey-based Elk Run Energy Associates filed its application on June 3, a month after the Waterloo City Council concluded contentious rezoning and annexation hearings.
The company must show the plant will control hazardous emissions, and use air-modeling programs to show the plant's exhaust will not worsen air quality in the area below standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
"We selected combustion technology and emissions control technology that will meet or exceed all of the requirements," said Mark Milburn, a spokesman for Elk Run Energy.
But opponents take issue with the standards as well as the plant.
The plant's claim to burn cleaner than older plants is suspect, said Cedar Falls Utilities spokeswoman Betty Zeman. CFU oprates an older and smaller coal-burning plant at its Streeter Street location.
At full capacity, the Streeter Street location would emit a maximum of 3,725 tons of particulate matter, a pollutant capable of causing heart and lung problems. By comparison, the proposed Elk Run Energy Station would emit a maximum of 961 tons.
But Zeman said the maximum emission assumes a location is run at full capacity all of the time. The Streeter Street location only runs at about 10 to 30 percent of capacity, Zeman said.
CFU officials reported actual particulate matter emissions of 218 tons to the DNR in 2007
The Elk Run Energy Station would run about 75-percent capacity, according to projections.