In addition to the planned shutdown of five power plants in three states, Columbus, Ohio-based AEP’s compliance plan calls for the upgrade or installation of new advanced emissions reduction equipment on another 10,100 megawatts, refueling 1,070 mw of coal generation as 932 megawatts of natural gas capacity, and building 1,220 megawatts of new gas-fired generation. The cost of the plan could range from $6 billion to $8 billion in capital investment through the end of the decade, an expense that would be borne by many of the company’s 5 million customers in the 11 states where AEP operates.
AEP has identified the following plants for permanent retirement tentatively by December 31, 2014: Glen Lyn, Glen Lyn, Va., 335 mw; Kammer, Moundsville, W.Va., 630 mw; Kanawha River, Glasgow, W.Va., 400 mw; and Picway, Lockbourne, Ohio, 100 mw. Also, 450 mw of the 1,050-mw Philip Sporn plant in New Haven, W.Va., would be shuttered by the end of this year, with the remaining 600 mw to follow by the end of 2014.
The company also would retire generating units at the following locations but continue operating some generation at the sites: Big Sandy, Louisa, Ky., 1,078 mw, by December 31, 2014; Clinch River, Cleveland, Va., 235 mw would be retired by December 31, 2014, while another 470 mw would be refueled with gas to a capacity of 422 mw by December 31, 2014; Conesville, Conesville, Ohio, 165 mw would be retired by December 31, 2012, while another 800 mw would continue operating with retrofits; Muskingum River, Beverly, Ohio, 840 mw would be retired by December 31, 2014, while another 600 mw may be refueled with gas to a capacity of 510 mw by December 31, 2014; Tanners Creek, Lawrenceburg, Ind., 495 mw would be retired by December 31, 2014, while another 500 mw would continue to operate with retrofits; and Welsh, Pittsburg, Texas, 528 mw would be retired by December 31, 2014, while another 1,056 mw would continue to operate with retrofits.
Two coal-fired generating units at AEP’s 935-mw plant in Oolagah, Okla., would be idled for a year or more while emission reduction equipment is installed. Both units would be taken out of service January 1, 2016. One unit would resume operation by December 31, 2016, with the other coming back on line by December 31, 2017.
AEP spokeswoman Terri Flora said the company knows it must retire some of the units. “The timeline is the thing. What we’re arguing is does it have to be done so quickly that it negatively impacts the economy and the communities where the plants are located?”
The company contends more time is needed to allow for a more orderly, less disruptive transition process. “Some of these retirement dates are being moved up five years” because of current EPA deadlines, she said. “It doesn’t leave local officials time to adjust. We also have responsibilities to these communities in addition to the environment.” AEP would like the deadlines to be moved back until 2018 or 2020.
Although some jobs would be created from the installation of emissions reduction equipment, AEP expects a net loss of approximately 600 power plant jobs with annual wages totaling approximately $40 million as a result of meeting the EPA rules.
“We are deeply concerned about the impact of the proposed regulations on our customers and local economies,” said Michael Morris, chairman and CEO, AEP. “Communities that have depended on these plants to provide good jobs and support local services will face significant reductions in payroll and property taxes in a very short period of time.”
Transmission system reliability, particularly in the Midwest, could be affected as well, he said. “The proposed timelines for compliance aren’t adequate for construction of significant retrofits or replacement generation, so many coal-fired plants would be prematurely retired or idled in just a few years.”
During the past two decades, AEP said it has invested more than $7.2 billion to cut emissions from its nearly 25,000-mw generation fleet. Coal accounts for 65% of the company’s approximately 38,000-mw generation portfolio.