Small town protests plan to build big-time power plant in Shelby County

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The small town of Morristown is taking on big business after a national company began setting its eyes on building a natural gas power plant in Shelby County.

Tenaska, based in Omaha, is evaluating a 98-acre plot of cornfields for the plant. The company said it would connect up to the grid and provide a $500 million construction project to Shelby County.

Dozens of residents packed the Morristown Town Hall Wednesday night to voice their concerns. Those opposed also held ‘Stop Tenaska’ signs and held a rally across the street shortly before the meeting.

“I need answers. I want to know what they’re doing for sure,” said Susan Meador, who lives near the proposed site.

Tenaska Development Director Helen Manroe said the project could bring up to 700 construction jobs and 25 permanent positions.

“The technology being proposed for this project is the cleanest fossil fuel for generating electricity,” said Manroe. “This would be cutting edge. They are new turbines that are very efficient and use natural gas efficiently.”

However, some residents are raising questions about air quality, how it could affect property values, tax abatements and the plant’s use of 200,000 gallons of water a day.

Manroe said they plan to find sustainable rechargeable options for their water source.

“If we drain the aquifer, then there wouldn’t be water for us and that wouldn’t make any sense at all.”

It may take Tenaska up to two years before they decide to go with Morristown as its site. The company plans to invite members of the Morristown Town Council, Shelby County and two state representatives to visit its Texas plant.

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