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Empire Holds Public Meeting To Discuss Decommissioning Asbury Pl - FOX 14 TV Joplin and Pittsburg News Weather Sports |

Empire Holds Public Meeting To Discuss Decommissioning Asbury Plant, Building Wind Facility

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     It's a move that's designed to adhere to new regulations and save money.
    Empire District Electric wants to implement wind turbines and close its plant in Asbury...something that's been in the works since last year.
     Tonight..the company held a public hearing.
 The meeting was packed - around 150 residents and city leaders came to express their concerns and support of the project.
Ron Burch, Green Alliance of Southwest Missouri: "For them to sit here and switch to renewable energy, to, whether that be solar or whether that be wind in this instance, is a blessing, it's a blessing for the area."
Julie Maus says one of the main reasons they've got to do this is the $25 million price tag attached to keeping this plant up to date with new regulations.
Julie Maus, Empire District: "Due to additional environmental regulations, we would either need to make some significant investments at Asbury by April of 2019, or retire that plant."
Some residents feel that there's a flip side to that coin.
Joplin City Attorney Peter Edwards got up and voiced concerns about recent investments into the Asbury facility and the related rate increases.
In 2010, Empire completed $121 million In upgrades to the plant to bring it up to code with regulations at that time.
As a result, the company was approved for a rate increase to offset those costs.
While he declined an on-camera interview at this time, Edwards says he doesn't believe customers should continue to pay for the improvements if the plant is going to be closed.
But those in support, say they're not that worried about extra costs.
Burch: "Even if it does bring your bill up in the beginning, just a hair, brings everybody's bill up in the beginning, the health related costs, the environmental impacts, way out weight the cost of the proposal."
     The Asbury plant is slated to close in April of 2019.
     There will be another hearing in April discussing the costs of the project and how they'll be paid for.
 

Chris Warner
Reporter

A Joplin native, Chris first started in broadcasting at age 16 at KSNF-TV in 2004..

Chris joined the KOAM team in 2017 as an Associate Producer. In April, he moved into a full-time reporter position. He spent time from 2008 to 2016 in various retail roles around the region before returning to his passion at KOAM. Chris is excited to continue telling the stories of the four states. Chris and his wife Amber live in Joplin and have three amazing children.

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