EKPC wants to construct ductwork to tie Cooper Unit 1 into Unit 2’s scrubber, which has sufficient capacity to handle the additional emissions. It is seeking a certificate of convenience and necessity from the PSC for the project. A final order by the commission is likely before the end of the year. Tony Campbell, East Kentucky’s president and CEO, said the co-op is “proposing what we believe is a very reasonable investment to extend the life of a reliable generating unit. We believe this will benefit our cooperative, the Lake Cumberland community and our owner-members and the 520,000 homes and businesses they serve.”

Cooper Unit 1 went into commercial operation in 1965, Unit 2 in 1969.

Ultimately, Campbell said, co-op members bear the costs of any modifications at Cooper. “We owe it to them to ensure that EKPC complies with these new rules while continuing to provide power as reliably and affordably as possible.”

Cooper Unit 1 represents a substantial investment by the co-op, including the generating unit, as well as transmission and fuel-handling facilities, he noted. The Cooper plant burns about 719,000 tons of Central Appalachian coal annually, mostly from eastern Kentucky.

If the PSC approves the project, the ductwork would be completed by 2015, according to EKPC spokesman Nick Comer. “This would save Cooper Unit 1 from retirement,” he said. If the request is rejected, the co-op probably would have no choice but to shutter the unit, he added.

During the past decade, EKPC has constructed two 278-mw coal-burning units at its Spurlock power plant near Maysville in eastern Kentucky. Plans for another 278-mw coal unit were dropped three years ago, however, because of escalating pro-ject costs.