AEP to Reevaluate Retrofit Options for 1,097-MW Big Sandy Coal Plant

American Electric Power (AEP) last week temporarily withdrew a $1 billion plan to retrofit its 49-year-old Big Sandy coal-fired plant near Louisa, Ky., from the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC), saying it wanted to reevaluate alternatives to meeting the company’s obligations under the recently finalized federal Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, the Mercury and Air Toxic Standard, and other environmental standards.

The PSC was scheduled to announce a decision on AEP’s filed request to increase rates by 30%, saying it was needed to finance the retrofit for the 1,097-MW plant. Environmental group Earthjustice had intervened in the case, contending it would be more cost-effective to replace the plant’s capacity with a mix of natural gas, renewables, and efficiency measures.

AEP said the company was not ready to announce whether it would retire the coal plant, stressing that the withdrawal was temporary. “The Company will file a new application, as required by Kentucky law, when the reanalysis is complete and a decision on the alternative is made,” it said in its filing with the PSC last week.

AEP spokeswoman Melissa McHenry said the decision was made after AEP learned more generation would be available in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic between 2015 and 2016, which could mean power from the coal plant may not be needed.

AEP has already announced plans to shutter 21 coal plants in its fleet, many of which are in West Virginia, Virginia, and Ohio.

Sources: POWERnews, Kentucky PSC, AEP

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