Aspen Power Plant

LUFKIN,TX(KTRE)- Aspen Power plant held a groundbreaking just tow short months ago, but now it looks like the actual construction may take longer than expected. That's because investigators are looking into allegations that Aspen Power could have used documents containing forged signatures from opponents of the plant in order to obtain an air quality permit. The Texas Commission of Environmental Quality told Aspen that they would have to get written support from opponents before a permit was issued. It appeared they had, until one of the opponents came forward.

Aaron Hartfield, an op poser of the plant says, "The Texas agency called me or sent me a letter thanking me for withdrawing my request for a hearing. That same day they sent me a statement saying they had granted Aspen their air quality permit. So I automatically got on the phone and called them and told them my wife and I hadn't signed anything."

KTRE spoke with the president of Apsen Power and he says he's confident that Aspen Power was not involved in forging any signatures" Vines said over a phone conversation, "We fully cooperated with the investigation Aspen Power is completely confident that no one is associated with our company is involved in producing false signatures."

THE TCEQ has put aside the request for Aspen's permit for now, because of the investigation. Texas Ranger Pete Maskunas released a statement today saying, "My office was contacted by the TCEQ due to allegations of fraudulent activities surrounding documents sent to TCEQ supporting Aspen's request for an air quality permit. The focus of our investigation is not to prevent the issue of the air quality permit. That is a civil matter our focus is the criminal activity, related to the document in question.

Ranger Maskunas says, if the investigation finds evidence to support the allegations, Aspen Power could be charged with tampering with government documents and securing an execution of document by deception. He also says if this investigation goes to trial, it will not be in Angelina County. The trial would be in Travis County because the documents were sent to TCEQ in Austin.

Aside from the investigation, the plant also faces a contested hearing. That hearing is open to the public and is scheduled for 10 a.m., Monday, November 17th at Lufkin's City Hall.