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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Neighborhood and environmental groups are calling for Evergy to shut down its Hawthorn coal burning power plant.

The groups claim the plant in east Kansas City is one of the last coal plants still operating within a major American city.

Some say people of color are harmed the most by the plant.

Members of the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association and the Missouri chapter of the Sierra Club want Evergy to begin shutting down Hawthorn now.

They say a study commissioned by the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign found that five premature deaths and more than 50 asthma attacks are caused by Hawthorn coal plant emissions every year.

The groups claim 35,000 people, including about 10,000 children, live within three miles of the coal plant. And more than four out of 10 of those folks who live closest to the coal burning plant are Black or Latino.

“Evergy can close Hawthorn and do nothing and it still would be able to maintain reliability and affordability, just the current energy mix that’s creating electricity in the grid,” Billy Davies, a Sierra Club Missouri chapter member, said.

Kansas City has a plan, which calls for trying to retire the power plant by 2025.

Evergy has said it plans to retire nearly all remaining coal generating plants by 2040.

Earlier this year the utility announced that it will build a 22,000 panel solar array at the Hawthorn power plant site this fall.

In a prepared statement in response to claims from neighbors and environmental groups, Evergy says in part: “Hawthorn power plant is a vital part of our region’s electrical grid.  It cannot be shut down by 2025 without causing significant reliability concerns for the entire Kansas City region. Hawthorn provides the electricity necessary to power our region on hot and cold days when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining.”

The company also denies that Hawthorn is a health threat to local communities, claiming that it’s a tiny contributor to emissions compared with internal combustion engine cars and trucks.

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