Kittugwiki (via Wikimedia Commons)
- May 2009: EcoPower Generation LLC is formed “to build and operate a wood-powered bioenergy plant in Eastern Kentucky,” according to the company’s Web site. Richard Sturgill, ecoPower’s chairman and founder, is a wealthy businessman and Hazard native.
- December 2009: EcoPower receives financial incentives from the state of up to $15 million after threatening to locate the plant elsewhere unless the incentives were granted.
- February 2010: EcoPower applies to the Kentucky State Board on Electric Generation and Transmission Siting for permission to construct the plant in Perry County. The company also changes its name to ecoPower Generation — Hazard, LLC.
- May 2010: The Siting Board approves ecoPower’s application for a certificate to build the plant.
- July 2011: Several of the state’s leading politicians write misleading letters supporting the plant. At least some of the letters were requested and drafted by ecoPower.
- January 2013: State Sen. Brandon Smith of Hazard introduces SB 46 directing the state Public Service Commission to give special consideration to proposed biomass power plants that have received a certificate from the Siting Board — in other words, ecoPower.
Legislative Research Commission
State Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard
- February 2013: SB 46 glides through the legislature with little discussion, no dissent and without a single “no” vote.
- March 5, 2013: Gov. Steve Beshear signs the bill into law.
- March 15, 2013: Kentucky Power, which serves approximately 170,000 customers in all or parts of 20 eastern Kentucky counties, agrees to buy all of the electricity generated by the ecoPower plant
- April 2013: Kentucky Power applies to the state Public Service Commission for approval to purchase electricity generated by the ecoPower plant.
- Oct. 10, 2013: The state PSC approves a 20-year contract allowing Kentucky Power to purchase electricity from ecoPower at a projected total cost of $1 billion. Without Smith’s bill, the PSC almost certainly would have rejected the contract. The PSC also gave consideration to the politicians’ letters.
- Oct. 22 – Nov. 8, 2013: Richard Sturgill of ecoPower and six other people associated with him donate a total of $6,500 to Brandon Smith’s 2014 re-election campaign.
- November 2013: Kentucky Industrial Utility Customers, Inc., a group of large electricity consumers that argued against the contract before the PSC, files suit in Franklin Circuit Court contesting the PSC’s decision. The lawsuit is pending.