Holcomb Expansion is a proposed 895-megawatt (MW) coal plant to be built in Garden City, Kansas, near the existing Holcomb Station. The estimated cost, as of 2014, is US$2.8 billion. Plans for the plant were first made in 2002, but the plant has faced many political and legal challenges.
Plans for the project were formally cancelled in 2020, as sponsor Sunflower Electric Power said it will let its air permit for Holcomb expire in March 2020.
The map below shows the proposed location for the power station in Garden City.
Sunflower Electric Power Corp. proposed three 700 megawatt (MW) supercritical coal plants near its 360 MW Holcomb plant. In the original 2100 MW proposal for the Holcomb expansion, two of the plants (1400 MW) would be owned by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Cooperative, a Colorado generation and transmission cooperative; 400 MW of power would go Golden Spread Electric Cooperative of Texas; 225 MW would go to Mid-Kansas Electric and Midwest Energy; the remaining power would go to Sunflower itself.
Originally, construction of the first unit was proposed to begin mid-2007, with the two other units to be constructed beginning in mid-2008 and 2009. The governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sibelius, expressed opposition to the plants, which would send 90% of the energy produced to other states; in addition, the attorney generals of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin complained that the plants would counter their efforts at curbing carbon dioxide emissions.
The Sierra Club filed a lawsuit in April 2007 challenging the state’s refusal to hold an evidentiary hearing on the proposed plants. One of the units was cancelled in Sept. 2007 after Colorado adopted a law requiring that rural electric cooperatives get 10 percent of their power from renewable resources. In October 2007, Sunflower Electric’s permit application for the two remaining plants was rejected by Kansas Health and Environment commissioner Roderick Bremby. This decision was the first instance of a power plant being cancelled because of carbon dioxide emissions. However, Sunflower pledged to continue pursuing the project, and was preparing for a “massive court battle.”
On November 25, the Sierra Club sued Sunflower for failing to submit an environmental impact statement. On Nov. 30, the Kansas Supreme Court decided to hear Sunflower’s appeal.
On May 29, 2008, after failing to override two vetoes by Governor Sebelius, the Kansas Legislature ended its 2008 session without attempting to override her third veto. Overriding the veto would have required a two-thirds majority, or 84 of 125 votes.
In July 2008, a federal judge denied a U.S. Justice Department request to throw out the Sierra Club lawsuit against Sunflower. A hearing is scheduled for February 2009.
In November 2008, Sunflower Electric asked a federal court to block the state from denying the plant's air permit. CEO Earl Watkins Jr. said that the state had violated Sunflower's Constitutional rights by unfairly denying the permit application. Bruce Nilles, director of the Sierra Club's national coal campaign, described the suit as a "last-ditch" effort by Sunflower to move forward with the plant.
On May 4, 2009, in a reversal of former Governor Sebelius' position, new Governor Mark Parkinson announced an agreement with Sunflower Electric that will allow construction of an 895 MW plant. The proposal permits power from the Holcomb plant to be exported to electric cooperatives in Colorado and Texas, with about 200 MW remaining in Kansas. Under the agreement, which was brokered with no public knowledge and announced only once it was signed, Sunflower will attempt to reduce emissions by shutting several dirtier plants. The agreement also contains a provision sought by Sunflower and its allies to limit the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's power to regulate greenhouse gases and other pollutants. In exchange for allowing construction of Sunflower's coal plant, legislators are required to pass a bill enacting renewable energy measures sought by Parkinson.
Parkinson immediately came under fire from fellow Democrats and environmentalists, who had long fought the Holcomb plant. Critics charged that although the new governor touted the concessions made by Sunflower, many were already planned by the utility before the deal was made. As part of the agreement, Sunflower must build two new transmission lines to help export Kansas wind energy westward; however, the company had already planned to build the new lines even before the compromise. Also as part of the agreement, Sunflower promised to decommission two outdated oil-fired power plants in Garden City, but according to the company, those oil burners have not been used in over two decades. The Parkinson deal also strips Kansas’s top regulator of the discretion he used to reject the plants in 2007, a change environmental groups say will make it easier for other utilities to build more coal plants in the state.
On June 22, 2009, Earthjustice and the Kansas Sierra Club sent a letter to the Kansas Department of Health Environment calling for a public comment period on the revived Holcomb proposal. A Health Department spokesperson said the agency was reviewing the letter and would consider the request.
On July 1, 2009, EPA notified Sunflower Electric and the state of Kansas that Sunflower must apply for a new air quality permit before the Holcomb expansion can move forward. The air permit process will require new environmental impact analyses and allow for the public comment period called for by Earthjustice and the Sierra Club.
On July 31, 2009, Sierra Club and Earthjustice filed a request in U.S. District Court to force the federal Rural Utilities Service to study the environmental impacts of the Holcomb expansion and look for alternative options to generate electricity. According to the lawsuit, the RUS must sign off on the plant because the agency guaranteed past construction loans.
January 2010 update: On January 13, 2010, Sunflower filed a new application with the state to build the 895 MW plant. The company says the new plant would meet state and federal air pollution regulations.
July 2010 update: Kansas Health and Environment (KDHE) officials have opened the public comment and hearing process for an air quality permit for the plant. Sunflower Electric Power Corp. wants a permit from KDHE, saying the plant would comply with state and federal air pollution rules. KDHE issued a draft permit to Sunflower for the new plant in June 2010. The public comment period began July 1 and will through Aug. 15. Three public hearings are scheduled in August in Overland Park, Garden City, and Salina.
The project has generated criticism from several environmental groups concerned about the power plant's impact. They argue the additional production of carbon dioxide and other pollutants will contribute to global warming and climate change. "For Sunflower's minimal power needs, building a near 900 megawatt coal plant is quite possibly the most risky option for ratepayers and the environment," said Stephanie Cole of the Kansas Sierra Club. Cole said the public was not allowed to comment on the agreement reached between Parkinson and Sunflower in 2009.
Joining the Sierra Club in its opposition to the plant is Earthjustice, a group of environmentalists. "The draft permit is a highly technical and lengthy document, and Kansans deserve enough time to thoroughly review the details of the draft permit," said Amanda Goodin, an Earthjustice attorney. "Given the fact that the health and welfare of Kansas citizens is at stake, a comprehensive independent review of the permit provisions is essential."
September 2010 update: According to AP, the coal plant is on track to obtain a state environmental permit by the end of 2010 so that it won't have to comply with new federal rules on greenhouse gas emissions. Sunflower Electric Power had worried it might not get its permit until 2011, when federal rules will require new power plants to use the best available technology for controlling greenhouse gas emissions. A key issue for Sunflower and environmentalists has been whether the new public comment period would last 30 days, the minimum required, or 45 days. Spokeswoman Kristi Pankratz told The Associated Press the department decided on the shorter period and plans to announce it by the end of September. Environmentalists see the shorter comment period as a sign the department is rushing a decision on whether Sunflower gets the air-quality permit it needs to build its plant.
November 2010 update: On November 2, 2010, Kansas secretary of health and environment Rod Bremby was asked to step down by Gov. Mark Parkinson, and will leave office by January 2011. In 2007, Bremby—with the support of then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius—refused to give Sunflower Electric an air quality permit for its Holcomb plant expansion, the first time a coal plant permit was denied because of global warming impacts. Four times the Legislature passed bills to approve the permit, and each time Gov. Sebelius vetoed them, helping her become Obama's Secretary of Health and Human Services, leaving Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson to take Sebelius' place. As Bremby steps down, still pending is a decision on the proposed environmental permit for Sunflower Electric, with the utility hoping that a permit will be issued by the end of the year, to avoid federal greenhouse gas rules taking effect Jan. 2, 2011.
December 2010 update: On December 16, 2010, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) issued a permit to Sunflower Electric for the plant. The permit is expected to provoke a review by the federal government, as a top Environmental Protection Agency official wrote in an open letter on November 27: "If KDHE recommends Sunflower be permitted before Jan. 2, EPA will review this initial decision ... That's why EPA must scrutinize not just the language of any Sunflower permit, but the whole state decision-making process that produced a permit."
Earthjustice released a press release on the permit, stating: "The final permit was issued in less than six months despite a comment period that generated 6,000 public comments, many of which were against the project, and despite decreasing electricity demand, low natural gas prices, and considerable renewable energy growth. The permitting process ... was cut short in an attempt to avoid new national environmental regulations, which become applicable on Jan 2, 2011. ... Sunflower has itself admitted that there is no need in Kansas for the vast majority of the capacity from this massive new polluting plant-instead, Tri-State, a Colorado utility, is slated to receive the majority of the power. But Tri-State's recent long-term resource plan shows that Tri-State has no need for the capacity either, and Tri-State has not yet committed to the project. Sunflower still hasn't paid back the federal government the millions of taxpayer dollars it owes for its existing coal plant at the Holcomb station. Given Sunflower's massive debt and precarious financial situation, it can't possibly finance this new coal plant itself without putting Kansas ratepayers at risk."
January 13, 2011 update: Sunflower files a new application with the state to build the 895 MW plant. The company says the new plant would meet state and federal air pollution regulations.
January 14, 2011 update: The Sierra Club and Earthjustice files a petition in the Kansas Court of Appeals, seeking to halt construction of the plant on the grounds that the permit violates the Clean Air Act. The Sierra Club's petition stated that the permit allows excessive amounts of mercury and other hazardous toxins to be released by the plant.
February 4, 2011 update: The EPA regional office in Kansas City releases a letter to Kansas Health and Environment Secretary Robert Moser, seeking “dialogue” on the state air permit, as the EPA found the permit’s limits on emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide too lax. EPA spokesman David Bryan said the EPA and the state appeared to disagree over whether Sunflower’s permit must be in line with tougher rules issued by the EPA last year for National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The federal agency wants Kansas to impose per-hour limits on the two pollutants, rather than 30-day averages.
March 1, 2011 update: Earth Justice, which represents the Sierra Club, sent a letter to Karl Brooks, EPA Region 7 administrator, making a formal demand that Brooks object to a permit issued by the state in December to build the Sunflower plant, as the plant “fails to meet the minimum requirement of the Clean Air Act and fails to adequately protect human health and the environment." On Feb. 3, 2011, Brooks asked KDHE officials to set up a meeting “in the very near future and begin a constructive dialogue about how to resolve EPA’s concerns” that the permit’s emission rates are higher than federal law allows. But KDHE has yet to respond to the federal agency’s request.
June 2011 update: Sunflower officials asks the state to “stay,” or put a hold, on the permit. They asked that the stay begin on June 1, 2011. Sunflower asked for the rare type of deadline extension to allow the plant to remain under the looser pollution laws in effect when its permit was issued in December 2010. Rather than a “stay,” companies typically ask for an “extension” of an air-quality permit. An extension requires that an air pollution analysis be done, and the permit extension must consider all new air pollution rules and regulations, both state and federal. The Sierra Club challenged Sunflower’s request, saying that granting the stay would, in effect, mean the permit would not have to include new climate change pollution regulations that went into effect Jan. 2, 2011, just two weeks after KDHE approved the permit. EPA has sent Sunflower’s request for a stay to its Office of General Counsel in Washington, D.C. The decision is up to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).
July 2011: On July 21, 2011, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Robert Moser gave Sunflower an unusual extension on its construction permit. The state order means the proposed power plant apparently will not have to face new and stricter pollution laws. Normally, a company will wait until the permit is about to expire and then request more time. Under that type of extension, the company’s project could be subject to new laws implemented since its permit was first issued. But Sunflower’s "stay" allows it to remain under the pollution laws that were in place when it was issued in December 2010. Sunflower will have one year to begin construction after the Supreme Court case is final.
August 2011: On Aug. 12, Earthjustice, representing the Sierra Club, filed a brief in the Kansas Supreme Court Friday seeking to overturn the air pollution permit granted to Sunflower Electric. On December 16, 2010, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued a new permit to Sunflower - it is this permit that the Sierra Club is challenging in court. The final permit was grant "due to political pressure by the legislature and governor's office" even after the Kansas Department of Health and Environment received nearly 6,000 public comments, many opposed to the project, the Sierra Club argues. Sierra Club pointed to a June 2011 report in the "Kansas City Star" that detailed a "cozy relationship" Sunflower enjoyed with KDHE during the permitting process. The newspaper analyzed hundreds of emails that revealed that Sunflower was allowed inappropriate influence over the permitting procedure and was allowed to draft responses to public comments for KDHE and influence the terms of its own permit, among other things. The emails obtained by the newspaper were not initially submitted to the Court by KDHE. Earthjustice filed a motion to ensure these documents were included in Court records. In a separate lawsuit, a federal court in Washington, DC held that the U.S. government violated the law by allowing Sunflower to proceed with the financially risky plant without first examining its environmental effects and alternative actions.
October 2011: the EPA said the Kansas Department of Health and Environment incorrectly informed the Kansas Supreme Court that the EPA did not object to the permit for the plant. The EPA also said KDHE failed to inform the Supreme Court that it had received three letters from EPA saying the Sunflower permit was not strict enough. The Sierra Club plans to raise the inaccurate Kansas statement about emissions in its own Supreme Court arguments. The Sierra Club wants the EPA to reject the permit, but the EPA is instead pushing Kansas to amend the permit to include the federal standards for nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide prior to construction of the plant.
January 31, 2012: U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan in Washington, D.C. said the plant cannot be built until there is a thorough environmental review. Sullivan’s decision followed a March 2011 ruling that the federal government’s Rural Utilities Service failed to consider environmental impacts of the plant. Sullivan has ordered “RUS shall not issue any approvals or consents for agreements or arrangements directly related to the Holcomb Expansion Project, or take any other major federal actions in connection with the Holcomb Expansion Project, until an EIS is complete.”
October 2013: The Kansas Supreme Court revoked the permit that had been issued for the plant in 2010. The high court unanimously agreed to remand the file to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, saying it did not consider the one-hour emission standards for nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Regulators were also directed to consider potential rules involving greenhouse gases, and mercury.
2014: As of 2014 it is uncertain the plant could move forward due to pending EPA regulations requiring new coal-fired power plants be equipped with carbon capture and storage (CCS); plant supporters say the EPA will grandfather the plant as an existing plant, exempting it from the CCS requirement, while opponents say building the plant would prevent the state from meeting EPA carbon dioxide reductions required for existing power stations.
2015: In 2015 the EPA stated in reference to Holcomb and two other plants that the agency is “unaware of any physical construction activity” at the site and therefore it would “likely” be considered a new plant if constructed. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has joined 15 other states in asking the EPA to delay the new rules regarding GHG emissions until the courts review them.
January 2016: The Kansas Supreme Court has been asked to determine whether the plant would be subject to greenhouse gas regulations. A ruling is expected by the end of the year. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has twice given the go-ahead for the project without setting limits on greenhouse gas emissions, a move challenged by the Sierra Club in 2014.
March 2017: On March 17, 2017, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the 2014 decision by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to give Sunflower Electric Power the go-ahead for the coal plant. The plant originally got a permit in 2010, just weeks before the EPA issued its first rules on greenhouse gases. In 2013 the state Supreme Court ordered KDHE officials to make changes to the permit to address other pollutants. KDHE responded by issuing what it called an "addendum" to the original permit, and argued that because it wasn't issuing a new permit to replace the one issued late in 2010, Sunflower still was not required to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The Supreme Court agreed, clearing the way for the plant's construction.
Sept 2017 update: On Aug 14, 2017 Tri-state Generation & Transmission acknowledged in its quarterly form 10-Q filing that, "Although a final decision has not been made by our Board on whether to proceed with the construction of the Holcomb Expansion, we have assessed the probability of us entering into construction for the Holcomb Expansion as remote."  Tri-State now proposes to write off more than US$93 million it spent planning for the expansion. After a meeting August 10, Tri-State board member Carl Trick II said, “The board has voted to get out of Holcomb. So there’s the possibility that we could sell it, but I don’t know who would want to buy it. I don’t think there’s going to be any coal plants built. Holcomb is over." Clean Technica attributes the change in plans to changing economics, especially wind power.
January 2020 update: Plant sponsor Sunflower Electric Power said it will let its air permit for Holcomb expire in March 2020, signaling the company did not plan to proceed with the project.
State and Sunflower in close contact during permitting
In June 2011, it was reported that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Sunflower Electric Power were in close contact while the state was writing a permit for Sunflower's Holcomb expansion. The report cited emails showing the state used Sunflower's answers to questions from the public during the permit process.
The project was approved in mid-December of 2011, just a couple of weeks before a new law was to take effect. The plant would have fallen under new federal regulations on greenhouse gasses that took effect January 2, 2011.
2011 report questions plant's cleanliness and pollution technology
A February 2011 report challenged the claim that the proposed Sunflower power plant will be among the cleanest coal plants in the country. The report was compiled by MSB Energy Associates and the Natural Resources Defense Council for Great Plains Alliance for Clean Energy. The groups found that hundreds of coal plants will have cleaner emissions of some pollutants than Sunflower Electric Power’s plant will have once it is built. Specifically, the report found that the Sunflower permit did not compare well in two areas:
- At least 669 coal-fired generating units have lower emissions of particulate matter than the current Sunflower permit allows.
- At least 321 coal-fired generating units have lower emissions of mercury than the Sunflower permit allows.
The permit compared better in two other areas, but the EPA is questioning whether the permit is adhering to new federal rules on those. According to the report:
- At least 53 coal-fired generating units have lower emissions of sulfur dioxide than the Sunflower permit allows.
- At least 18 coal-fired generating units have lower emissions of nitrogen oxides than the Sunflower permit allows.
The report also pointed out that the boiler that would be designed for the Holcomb plant would use standard technology. A settlement agreement between Sunflower and Parkinson had said that the co-op would install what is known as an ultra-supercritical pulverized boiler, which would reduce greenhouse gases. However, when Sunflower applied for the permit, it decided to use the less efficient boiler. KDHE then approved it.
Sidestepping Kansas coal provision
In 2009, Fort Scott Republican Bob Marshall inserted into legislation endorsed by plant-applicant Sunflower Electric Power Corp. and signed into law by Gov. Mark Parkinson a provision requiring 5 percent of coal burned in any new power unit to have been mined in Kansas. The coal clause was among several reportedly designed to convince reluctant legislators to open the door to Sunflower's quest for the $2.2 billion Holcomb Expansion. Yet Sunflower's subsequent application for an air-quality permit for the new Holcomb plant didn't take into account use of Kansas coal. Email traffic between Sunflower and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment indicated Kansas coal, which has a higher sulfur content, wasn't factored into computer modeling on emissions critical to KDHE's authorization in December 2010 to proceed with the project. Correspondence produced as a result of a Kansas Open Records Act indicate Sunflower officials helped KDHE write an explanation why the 5 percent coal provision could be sidestepped.
Cindy Hertel, spokeswoman for the Hays-based Sunflower, said she viewed as premature suggestions the Kansas company and a major business partner, Tri-State Electric Generation and Transmission Association in Denver, would never rely upon Kansas coal. Sunflower and Tri-State have business interests in Powder River Basin coal in Wyoming. Sunflower might make coal from Kansas a piece of the fuel mixture at some point, Hertel said.
Stephanie Cole, spokeswoman for the the Sierra Club's chapter in Kansas, said layering the bill with a Kansas coal teaser demonstrated how the process was twisted by Sunflower and its political allies to gain House and Senate support for a project blocked by Democrat Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in 2007. Her successor, Mark Parkinson, negotiated the deal approved by legislators in 2009.
Gatewood, of Columbus, said the majority of electricity to be produced at the new Sunflower unit would be transferred to consumers in other states: "Why would they consider using Kansas products," he said. "The product they're producing won't be going to Kansas."
Anti-Sebelius ad campaign
Following the October, 2007, decision by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, newspapers across Kansas ran an ad by Kansans for Affordable Energy that featured the faces of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The ad asked, “why are these men smiling?” The answer, according to the ad, was:
- Because the recent decision by the Sebelius Administration means Kansas will import more natural gas from countries like Russia, Venezuela and Iran.Unmentioned in the ad, however, is the fact that Kansans for Affordable Energy is partially funded by Sunflower Electric Power Corp. and the Peabody Coal Company. Sunflower Electric is the company whose permits were rejected by Sebelius’s administration.
The Washington Post characterized the ads are extremely misleading, since not only doesn't “Kansas currently export natural gas to other states,” but the U.S. doesn’t even “currently import natural gas from Russia, Venezuela or Iran.”
Bob Kreutzer, a founder of Kansans for Affordable Energy, admitted that the link between Sebelius and Ahmadinejad, et al. may have been “a little bit extreme.”
Sebelius called the ads “over the top nonsense,” adding: "Anyone who would associate our state with the controversial and disreputable world leaders pictured in this ad fundamentally misunderstands and disrespects the people of Kansas."
Chronology Leading up to Permit Denial
The following timeline was published by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment:
- June 6, 2001 – Sunflower Electric Power Corporation applied for an air quality permit for a single 660-megawatt coal-fired power plant known as the Sand Sage Project.
- October 8, 2002 – KDHE approved and issued an air quality permit for the Sand Sage plant.
- April 5, 2004 – KDHE granted an 18-month extension to Sunflower for the air quality permit for the Sand Sage plant.
- October 4, 2005 – The air quality permit for the Sand Sage plant is allowed to expire without the proposed 660-megawatt plant being constructed.
- February 6, 2006 – KDHE received a preliminary permit application from Sunflower for the proposed Holcomb expansion of three 700-megawatt coal-fired power plants.
- February 10, 2006 – KDHE submitted a copy of the preliminary permit application to the EPA.
- June 1, 2006 – KDHE received an updated section of the application with electronic copies the complete updated application. KDHE deemed the application complete.
- June 12, 2006 – KDHE submitted updated permit application to the EPA.
- August 24, 2006 – KDHE attended a town hall meeting in Garden City held by Sunflower.
- September 21, 2006 – KDHE released the public notice on the Sunflower draft air permit application.
- October 24, 2006 – Approximately 95 individuals attended a public hearing in Garden City. Twenty-three (23) individuals provided oral testimony.
- October 26, 2006 – Approximately 120 individuals attended a public hearing in Topeka. Twenty-eight (28) individuals provided oral testimony.
- November 16, 2006 – Approximately 371 individuals attended a public hearing Lawrence. Seventy-eight (78) individuals provided oral testimony.
- December 15, 2006 – The public comment period ended with approximately 650 written comments received by KDHE.
- June 18, 2007 – Sunflower notified KDHE that they are removing one of the proposed 700-megawatt generators from the air quality permit application.
- September 24, 2007 – Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison released an opinion affirming that K.S.A. 65-3012 authorizes the Secretary of KDHE to modify or deny an air quality permit to protect the health of persons or the environment.
- October 9, 2007 – KDHE Secretary Roderick L. Bremby and KDHE Director of the Environment Dr. Ronald Hammerschmidt testified before the Electric Generation Review Panel examining the air quality permitting process.
- October 18, 2007 – KDHE announces the decision on the Sunflower air quality permit application.
- Sponsor: Sunflower Electric Power Corp.
- Location: Garden City, Kansas
- Capacity: 895 MW
- Type: Supercritical
- Projected in service:
- Status: Canceled
- Kansas Sierra Club, info [at] kansas.sierraclub.org
- The Great Plains Alliance for Clean Energy, info [at] www.GPACE.org
- Jim McLean, "New regulations could end dispute over Kansas coal-fired power plant," KHI News Service, Aug 20, 2014
- "Kansas energy company abandons plans for $2.2 billion coal power plant". The Wichita Eagle. January 15, 2020.
- "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed January 2008. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals.)
- “Tracking New Coal-Fired Power Plants,” National Energy Technology Lab, May 1, 2007, page 13. (Pdf)
- "Holcomb Plant at Center of Emissions Conflict", The Capital-Journal, September 23, 2007.
- "Power Plant Rejected Over Carbon Dioxide for First Time", Washington Post, October 20, 2007.
- "Citing Global Warming, Kansas Denies Plant Permit", New York Times, October 20, 2007.
- "Supreme Court Takes Over Power Plant Permit Appeals", Topeka-Capital-Journal, November 30, 2007.
- "Kansas Legislature Comes to an End", KTKA.com, May 29, 2008.
- "Judge Refuses to Dismiss Coal Plant Expansion Case", E&ENews PM, July 18, 2008.
- Carl Manning, "Sunflower sues Kan. over coal plant permit denial," Associated Press, November 18, 2008.
- Kansas lawmakers attempt another run at coal plant", Bernie Woodal, Reuters, May 5, 2009.
- Parkinson's pro-coal plan stiffs Sebelius", Yael T. Abouhalkah, Kansas City Star, May 4, 2009.
- "Kansas lawmakers working on bill to enact coal deal", John Hanna, Associated Press, May 6, 2009.
- David Klepper, "Coal-plant decision fires up critics," Kansas City Star, May 11, 2009.
- "Environmentalists seek hearing on Kansas coal plant," Associated Press, June 22, 2009.
- "Kansas Utility Faces New Permit Hurdles for Proposed Coal Plant," Environmental News Service, July 6, 2009.
- "Critics take new step to block Kansas coal plant," Associated Press, August 5, 2009.
- "Kan. Utility Files New Application for Coal Plant," Associated Press, January 13, 2009.
- John Milburn, "Hearings set, public comments sought on new Kansas coal plant permit" KansasCity.com, July 3, 2010.
- John hanna, "Coal plant permit expected this year" NTV, September 16, 2010.
- "Parkinson confirms regulator is leaving job" knst.com, Nov. 2, 2010.
- "Kansas Issues Permit for New, Massive Sunflower Coal Plant While Other States Begin Retiring Existing Coal Plants," Earthjustice Press Release, Dec. 16, 2010.
- "Kan. Utility Files New Application for Coal Plant," Associated Press, January 13, 2009.
- "Appeal filed to halt Sunflower plant" Karen Dillon, The Kansas City Star, January 14, 2010.
- "EPA questions parts of Kansas permit for coal plant" Kansas City Star, Feb. 4, 2011.
- Karen Dillon, "Group asks for halt to coal plant" Kansas City Star, March 1, 2011.
- Karen Dillon, "Review makes future of Kansas coal-fired power plant unclear" Kansas City, July 4, 2011.
- Karen Dillon, "Sunflower coal plant gets break from state on new pollution laws" Kansas City Star, July 22, 2011.
- "Kansas Court Asked to Overturn Sunflower Electric Coal Plant Permit" ENS Newswire, August 15, 2011.
- Karen Dillon, "EPA spars with Kansas over Sunflower coal-fired power plant" The Kansas City Star, Nov. 1, 2011.
- Scott Rothschild, "U.S. court puts up roadblock on Sunflower Electric Power Corp. coal-burning power plant in Kansas" LJWorld, Jan. 31, 2012.
- Ken Silverstein, "Kansas High Court Case Cast Coal’s Future in a New Light," Energy Biz, Oct 07, 2013.
- Bryan Thompson, "EPA rules put Holcomb plant in doubt: Clean power plan makes it less likely controversial Kansas coal plant will be built," KHI, August 11, 2015
- John Hanna, "Kansas Supreme Court ponders greenhouse gas limits for coal plant," Associated Press, Jan 28, 2016
- "Top Kansas Court Clears Way for New Coal-Fired Power Plant," AP, Mar 17, 2017
- "Tri-state quarterly update," US SEC filing 10-Q, Aug 14, 2017, note 7
- "Tri-State G&T and Sunflower Electric," Clean Technica, Sep 15, 2017
- "Kansas energy company abandons plans for $2.2 billion coal power plant". The Wichita Eagle. January 15, 2020.
- Todd Pittenger, "State, Coal Plant In Close Contact During Permitting Process" Metro Source News, June 20, 2011.
- Karen Dillon, "Power plant’s promises come up short, opponents say" Kansas City Star, Feb. 10, 2011.
- Tim Carpenter, "Sunflower avoiding 5% solution on coal" cjonline, July 3, 2011.
- Matt Corley, "Coal Industry Smears Kansas Governor As Ahmadinejad Booster For Denying Air Permit," Think Progress, 11/7/07
- Sunflower Electric Cooperative Air Quality Permit Application Timeline, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, accessed February 2009. (Pdf)
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