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A KyCIR investigation raises questions about political maneuvering for a power plant in eastern Kentucky and whether leaders sacrificed the public good to benefit a few.

Gov. Beshear Got Hefty Donations From Power Plant Proponents

ecoPower photo
ecoPower press release
Gary Crawford, CEO ecoPower; Len Peters, Secretary of the Kentucky Energy Cabinet; David Drake, board member for ecoPower and a former Energy Cabinet Secretary; Richard Sturgill, ecoPower founder and chairman; with Gov. Steve Beshear at a bill signing ceremony for SB 46.

Information continues to surface about a proposed biomass-burning, electricity-generating plant in eastern Kentucky, and the company trying to build it.

Tom Loftus, The Courier-Journal’s Frankfort bureau chief, reported Thursday on his politics blog that people associated with ecoPower Generation – Hazard – LLC were “early and huge” contributors to Gov. Steve Beshear’s political committees during his re-election cycle.

According to Loftus’ campaign-contributor database, ecoPower-related contributions to Beshear’s political causes in 2009-2011 totaled at least $145,000.

Our recent investigation into the ecoPower project found that ecoPower got a big boost from legislation championed by state Sen. Brandon Smith of Hazard. Smith later received $6,500 in campaign contributions from people associated with the company, KyCIR found. You can read all of our reports on the KyCIR Projects page.

Also this week, we reported on a Partnership for Policy Integrity report that was critical of biomass burning in general and the ecoPower project in particular.

The Biomass Power Association, an industry group, quickly fired back with a release criticizing what it characterized as PFPI’s “inaccurate report.” The association’s response did not specifically mention the ecoPower plant.

Reporter R.G. Dunlop can be reached at rdunlop@kycir.org or (502) 814.6533.

R.G. Dunlop is an award-winning investigative reporter whose work has exposed government corruption and resulted in numerous reforms. Email R.G. at rdunlop@lpm.org.