by Darren Doyle
The Edmonson Voice has just learned that Atmos Energy has made the decision not to sell the Rocky Hill Gas Plant, but instead disassemble and move it out of Edmonson County for good.
Bowling Green Attorney Charles English, founding partner of English, Lucas, Priest, and Owsley Law Firm, spoke on behalf of Atmos Energy.
"They (Atmos) decided that this would be in the best interest of the community and everybody concerned," English said.
Residents of the Rocky Hill community have been very upset ever since the plant was built back in 2007. Many say that the noise is unbearable when the plant is in operation, there is residue from the plant's exhaust, and it very unfriendly in a small, community environment.
"It will be a process to get the equipment dis-assembled," English said. "There'll be other equipment there to accomplish that, they'll be in and out, and everybody needs to be mindful of that and to be careful about it."
English met with District 3 Magistrate Clark Wood today about the 15 acre tract of land where the plant now sits as well as another small building. "We're exploring ways that the county might use that, whether it be a new location for a fire station, and maybe recreational or community purposes."
Mr. English said Atmos wanted to work with the community with regards to the property and that Magistrate Wood will be discussing that with Judge Wil Cannon and Fiscal Court. "We want to work out something that's beneficial to the residents of the community up there," said English. "It would be a nice donation on the part of Atmos, to show their good will."
Magistrate Wood said he was informed just today of the decision and that he had no prior knowledge of the decision by Atmos. He said he knew that Rocky Hill residents would be happy with the decision. "Nobody ever wanted a gas plant here in the first place," he said.
Within the next few weeks, according to Mr. English, Atmos will begin the process of decommissioning the gathering lines that are on local property owners' land. This will require purging and capping the lines. "We'll need to work with everybody on that," he added.
Several variables will determine the exact start time for the project and of course, the upcoming Christmas holiday, but English said it would be accomplished as soon as Atmos could reasonably do so. "We don't know how the weather is going to be, and we don't know when all the contractors and equipment can be there, (but) I'd hope we can get this done within the next 60 to 90 days," he said.
Judge Cannon was in an afternoon meeting and was unavailable at press time. We will have more updates as they become available.