PPL subsidiary expedites closure of Cane Run coal plant

PPL (NYSE: PPL) subsidiary Louisville Gas and Electric (LG&E) now expects to shut down the three coal-fired units at the Cane Run power station in Kentucky eight months earlier than originally planned, the company said Oct. 15.

The new natural gas combined-cycle unit is now expected to be serving customer needs in May 2015 allowing for the early closure of the coal units, PPL said in a news release.

The utility is developing a 640-MW combined-cycle natural gas plant in Jefferson County, Ky. The cost of the project is an estimated $583m. LG&E and sister utility, Kentucky Utilities (KU) have already received a of public convenience and need for the plant.

In September, the utility said that it was withdrawing its permit application for a coal waste landfill permit.

“Having received timely certificates and permits from the Kentucky Public Service Commission and other regulatory agencies, we were able to get a quick start on the project and now should be able to retire the coal-fired units sooner than expected,” said Paul W. Thompson, senior vice president of energy services.

Preliminary work has already started at Cane Run. The transmission lines on the property are being moved, and the communications tower has been relocated to make room for the new natural gas combined-cycle plant.

Bluegrass Power Constructors, who will be building the plant, is expected to begin mobilizing later this year with full construction beginning in the first quarter of 2013. The contract with Bluegrass specifies the May 2015 completion timetable and has penalties should Bluegrass extend beyond this time. At peak of the construction process, 250 construction jobs are expected to be created.

The Cane Run plant began operation in 1954, and by 1969, had a total of six coal-fired units in operation. Units 1, 2 and 3 were retired in 1987. The remaining three units have a net generating capacity of 563 MW.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.