BAY CITY, Texas (AP) — A Gulf Coast coal-fired power plant that ran into fierce local opposition over concerns that it would use immense amounts of public water in the drought-stricken area will not be developed, an energy company announced Friday.
The White Stallion Energy Center said it was suspending work on the 1,200-megawatt power project in Matagorda County, about 90 miles southwest of Houston.
Chief Operating Officer Randy Bird blamed proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules and the specter of more regulations. He also said low natural gas prices have made the price of electricity from coal uncompetitive.
White Stallion planned to build its plant on the banks of the Colorado River at Bay City, which feeds estuaries that serve as oyster and shrimp nurseries and irrigation for the pastures and fields of the massive ranches. But the project had faced challenges since it was proposed in 2008.
Ranchers, farmers and other residents opposed plans to build the plant in the pristine rural area, arguing there was not enough water to support the facility and the community's agricultural needs.
The company moved ahead, ignoring the bright yellow "Stop White Stallion" signs. Slowly, members of the Chamber of Commerce, the school district, the county and other officials abandoned support for the plant, despite the promised job creation.
Bird announced in October 2011 that the facility would use a more expensive dry cooling method, requiring about 978 billion gallons of water a year — 85 percent less than the initial plan. But a month later, the Lower Colorado River Authority voted not to grant water to White Stallion.
Several environmental groups, which also had concerns about air and water pollution, called Friday's decision a major victory.
"I think they thought that since we were a small rural community, they would not encounter opposition. They were wrong," Eva Malina, president of the No Coal Coalition, said Friday in a news release.