Community members create petition in response to potential sale of the Gibbons Creek Coal Plant
BTU says they are still in discussions about the sale
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Community members created a petition against the sale of the Gibbons Creek Coal Plant, noting their concern about both environmental and health factors.
The coal plant shut down in 2018 after nearly 50 years of operations. BTU General Manager Gary Miller said they shut it down because it didn’t make sense economically.
Now, BTU is working with an unnamed buyer to sell the plant, leaving residents like Robert Rose concerned.
“Anything would be better than a coal fire facility,” said Bryan resident Robert Rose. “Whether the site is turned into a park, whether it is possibly converted to a solar generation facility, almost anything would be better.”
Many other community members agree with Rose, and created a petition, noting “Reopening the Gibbons Creek Coal Plant will only harm the community. It will pollute our air, putting us at greater risk of a wide range of health effects, including heart and lung diseases, damage to the brain, eyes, skin, breathing passages, kidneys, and nervous and respiratory systems.”
Miller says that they have two plans in place. One is the sale of the plant, which according to him has been in the works for months. If that does not go through, he says they have put money into the 2021 BTU budget proposal for decommissioning the plant and its structures, along with cleaning up the surrounding land and reservoir.
When asked if the potential buyer fully intends to reopen the facility as a coal plant, Miller said that they were not 100% sure.
“The only indication that we’ve gotten that they may want to operate it as a coal plant is that they have talked to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) about adding that generation back into ERCOT’s mix for capacity,” said Miller.
Miller also says that if the sale goes through or not, BTU customers should not expect to see an increase in rates. If it does go through he says there is a possibility rates could go down.
“The fiscal responsibility of the ratepayers of BTU and the City of Bryan is my main concern,” said Miller.
Rose says his main goal is to let lawmakers know the health risks involved with the potential reopening of the plant.
“We want our leadership to realize that the short term financial gain from the sale is not worth the long term health impacts on our population in terms of respiratory disease,” said Rose.
If the sale goes through, Miller says it has to be approved by the City Council and the BTU board before it would be final.
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