Environment
2:04 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

American Electric Power Agrees to Stop Burning Coal at Coal-Fired Units in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio

Credit Erica Peterson/WFPL

American Electric Power has agreed to stop burning coal at several coal-fired units in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. The company reached a settlement today with a coalition of environmental groups, several states and the Environmental Protection Agency.

From the Sierra Club:

AEP also agreed to replace a portion of these coal plants with new wind and solar investments in Indiana and Michigan, bringing more clean energy on line to meet the region’s electricity needs. AEP will stop burning coal at the Tanners Creek Generating Station Unit 4 in Indiana, the Muskingum River Power Plant Unit 5 in Ohio, and the Big Sandy Power Plant Unit 2 in Kentucky. Collectively, a total of 2,011 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired power will retire as part of the settlement, removing almost 12 million tons of climate-disrupting carbon pollution and nearly 84,000 tons of sulfur dioxide pollution that the three coal-fired power plants spew into the air each year.

AEP was already planning to retire Unit 2 at the Big Sandy power plant in Louisa. As I reported last year, the company reversed an original decision to install pollution controls on the unit, and announced that it would instead ask the Public Service Commission to approve a plan to retire the unit.

Even so, Earthjustice attorney Shannon Fisk says the settlement announced today will still have some effect on the plant. For one, under the terms, AEP's options for Unit 2 are greatly reduced. Even if the PSC rejects the proposed plan (which includes buying generation capacity from a power plant in West Virginia), the company still has to either retire the unit, replace it with natural gas or install advanced pollution controls. And Fisk points out that the company has already determined the pollution controls would be too expensive. 

The settlement also sets a timeline. AEP is now required to take action by December 2015.