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CA company cancels plans for energy research plant in Kane Co.

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Posted at 9:53 PM, Jan 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-04 00:00:56-05

KANAB, Utah – Members of the Taxpayer Association of Kane County are celebrating after California-based energy company Viresco Energy canceled plans to build a research plant this week.

The plant would have worked with coal gasification to develop clean energy. Local leaders say the opposition was misguided.

The plant has been in the planning stages for three years, but after petitions, and various lawsuits, Viresco Energy president Jim Guthrie says his funding and timeline were stretched too thin.

“The costs were higher, exponentially, than what we originally had budgeted between us and the Department of Energy,” says Guthrie. “We just felt we couldn’t in good faith move forward knowing we didn’t have enough funding to carry it all the way through.”

It was a relief to residents who had been fighting the plant. Taxpayer Association of Kane County vice president Paul Arndt says they’re sorry they had to take the steps they did, but found a majority of the people in the area were opposed.

“We saw no benefit to the community,” says Arndt. “Other than ugly looking stacks sticking up with flames sticking out of it at night.”

Viresco Energy had already started digging a foundation for the main building. The lease went through SITLA, and technically didn’t need residential approval. The taxpayer association lost all their lawsuits on those grounds.

In addition, the clean energy plan had the support of the governor, the city council and state representative Mike Noel.  Noel says the campaign against the plant was filled with lies, and the area has lost out on a huge economic opportunity based on fear.

“They said this is going to be a huge 300 acre facility huge smokestacks, it was going to burn coal 24-7,” says Nowl. “That was never the case. These people maligned him and castigated him, and treated him with disrespect, a person who came to our community to try and add and benefit our community.”

Guthrie says he plans to build his experimental plant elsewhere, but still hopes to build a full scale production plant in Utah to take advantage of the rich coal deposits.