Coal Plants Switch Off

Monday, June 8, 2015 @ 05:06 PM gHale

All in the name of eliminating coal-fired power, American Electric Power (AEP) shut down 5,535 megawatts of power this past weekend, officials said.

That amount of power is enough to light up 5.5 million homes, but AEP shut down the plants to comply with new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for mercury emissions.

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Including the 630 megawatts the Columbus, Ohio-based utility firm previously generated at Marshall County’s Kammer Plant, AEP shut down 5,535 megawatts across Appalachia and the Midwest Sunday. According to PJM Interconnection, which operates the power grid serving West Virginia and Ohio, one megawatt can power as many as 1,000 homes.

Aside from the Kammer plant, AEP also shut down the 600-megawatt Philip Sporn Plant in New Haven, WV; the 400-megawatt Kanawha River Plant in Glasgow, WV; the 1,440-megawatt Muskingum River Plant in Waterford, OH; the 100-megawatt Picway Plant near Columbus, OH; the 235-megawatt Clinch River Plant in Carbo, VA; the 335-megawatt Glen Lyn Plant in Glen Lyn, VA.; the 800-megawatt Big Sandy Plant in Louisa, KY; and the 995-megawatt Tanners Creek Plant in Lawrenceburg, IN.

Before the end of 2016, AEP also plans to turn off another 470 megawatts at a plant in Oklahoma and another 528 megawatts at a facility in Texas, for a retirement of 6,533 megawatts of coal-fired electricity.

According to the company, it will spend as much as $3.3 billion through 2020 to comply with the new EPA regulations. Carmen Prati-Miller, spokeswoman for AEP’s West Virginia subsidiary, Appalachian Power, said the firm continues making transmission system improvements that will help compensate for the loss of wattage. She also said AEP is evaluating the “feasibility and cost of utility-owned solar” as a possible method of meeting power needs.

Meanwhile, the Public Service Commission of West Virginia voted late Friday to ask AEP for more information about the plants the company is shutting down in West Virginia. The commission wants to know AEP’s specific plans for each facility it closed, while also hoping to learn if the plants could run on alternative fuels.

As for the final workers on the job at Kammer, Prati-Miller said most of them were able to take other positions within AEP. She said four or five management employees will remain at the site to make sure it is secure.

What is now the Kammer Plant originally opened to provide electricity to the now closed Ormet Corp. aluminum smelter, located across the Ohio River in Hannibal.

AEP will continue operating the larger and newer Mitchell Plant, located just south of Kammer.