The industry last week saw the postponements of several more fossil-fueled power plants. Subsidiaries of American Electric Power (AEP) reportedly delayed construction of two integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) plants in West Virginia and in Ohio, NV Energy stalled plans for a 500-MW coal-fired facility in Nevada, and Consolidated Energy put off construction of a 109-MW pet coke power plant in Utah.

Closure of Smelter Could Delay AEP’s Need for W.Va. IGCC Plant

The announced closure of the Ravenswood Century Aluminum smelter has held up AEP’s plans to build its 629-MW IGCC power plant in Mason County, W.Va., because the smelter would have consumed a significant portion (11%) of the power that the IGCC facility would have produced, reported West Virginia television station WTRF on Thursday.

The smelter’s closure means that the need for the $2.23 billion plant—which would require approximately 48 to 54 months to complete—has been diminished. The need for an IGCC plant in Mason County may now be pushed back a year or more, Appalachian Power spokesperson Jeri Matheney told the station.

AEP had originally intended to put the IGCC plant online by 2012. The company’s plans had been approved by the Public Service Commission of West Virginia in March 2008, but they were denied in April by the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), which deemed the plant’s cost estimate (dated November 2006) “not credible.”

Virginia’s approval is required to build the plant, and its decision has put the project in limbo. But even though the company affirmed that it would pursue IGCC technology, it had no plans to file again soon with the SCC, Matheney told WTRF.

If built, the plant will be located beside the company’s existing 1,300-MW Mountaineer Plant near New Haven, W.Va. That facility will this year host a 12- to 18-month validation project to capture more than 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year from its flue gas and sequester it in deep saline aquifers on site. The project will be conducted jointly by AEP and Alstom.

AEP Defers Ohio IGCC Plant, Citing Weak Economy

AEP has also put on hold an identical IGCC power plant that would be built across the Ohio River in Meigs County, Ohio, because of the weak economy, The Daily Sentinel reported last week.

David Celona, AEP’s vice president of external affairs, told the newspaper Friday that the company would file with the Ohio Public Utilities Commission and the state environmental agency to say that plans to build the plant are on hold, though the company continues to hope that the plant can be built there.

AEP had previously put plans for the Meigs County IGCC plant on hold when costs for the plant’s construction ballooned to $2 billion. Commodity costs, such as those for building materials and fuel, have gone down, but the company did not feel it was feasible to build the plant now, given the state of the economy, Celona reportedly said.

Earlier last year, the Ohio Supreme Court had unanimously ruled that that $23.7 million in start-up costs could not be recovered under an electric choice law signed in 1999. Though the state has since passed a new electric utility deregulation law, it still leaves questions about whether utilities are allowed to recover costs for new generating facility construction. Without cost recovery, AEP has said it cannot build the plant in Meigs County.

NV Energy Puts 500-MW Nevada Coal Plant on Hold

Last week, Nevada-based NV Energy said in a press release it had deferred plans to build the 500-MW coal-fired Ely Energy Center for a decade or more—or “until the technologies that will capture and store greenhouse gases are commercially feasible.”

The company cited “increasing environmental and economic uncertainties surrounding its development” as the basis for its decision to postpone its plans for the eastern Nevada plant. It said, however, that it would proceed with the construction of a 250-mile transmission line to link northern and southern Nevada—part of the company’s original plan for the Ely Energy Center—because it was considering “numerous proposals” for development of renewable energy in the state. That line is expected to be operational no later than 2012.

The Ely Energy Center had already been delayed for several years because of permitting issues, but the company had deemed it necessary to meet growing power needs in its southern Nevada service area. For that reason, the company was racing to begin construction on its 500-MW Harry Allen Generating Station, and it bought the 598-MW Higgins Generating Station. The company also completed a third plant, the Tracy Generating Station in northern Nevada, last summer. All three plants are gas-fired.

Consolidated Energy Freezes Utah Pet Coke Plant Amid Public Opposition

On Tuesday, Consolidated Energy Utah announced it would put a 109-MW petroleum coke–fired power plant proposed for West Bountiful City on hold. The company made the decision following public outcry against the facility, even though it would have been the cleanest pet coke facility in the world, the company said.

“We at Consolidated have listened to the comments,” said a news release. “And, although we have complied with all current national and local standards, we do not wish to force a community to host a project that does not meet the community’s concerns about the project not being in compliance with the coming national and local standards.”

Utah’s Division of Air Quality was poised to grant the facility a license based on technical grounds, reported The Salt Lake Tribune. But public opposition and freshly introduced legislation in the state’s House that would put a two-year moratorium on most new power plants in Utah’s highly polluted areas forced the company to reconsider its plans.

Sources: AEP, WTRF, The Daily Sentinel, NV Energy, Consolidated Energy, The Salt Lake Tribune