The Arkansas Public Service Commission has agreed to a request from Southwestern Electric Power and has reopened the record in a long-running case involving a proposed new SO2 scrubber and other emissions controls for the coal-fired Flint Creek power plant.
On Oct. 9, 2012, the Arkansas commission concluded the evidentiary hearing in this proceeding and held the record open for the submission of post-hearing closing arguments. They were filed on Nov. 16, 2012.
On Dec. 14, 2012, Southwestern Electric Power (SWEPCO), Flint Creek co-owner Arkansas Electric Cooperative (AECC) and the Arkansas Attorney General (AG) filed a joint motion to reopen record “for the purpose of receiving additional evidence which the parties believe will more filly develop the record and assist the Commission in reaching a decision in this case….”
The companies said their senior management have had extensive discussions about the alternatives to providing the generation output of the Flint Creek plant if the commission denies the pending petition for a declaratory order finding that installation of environmental controls at the plant is in the public interest. PSC staff did not object to the petition to reopen, but the Sierra Club did, arguing that there had been ample evidence offered in this case. The Sierra Club, by the way, opposes the emissions projects and has claimed that other, cleaner options should be pursued.
SWEPCO and AECC said they have held discussions with business leaders in Northwest Arkansas and with Southwest Power Pool (SPP) officials. SWEPCO and AECC anticipate that Northwest Arkansas business leaders will provide direct testimony in support of SWEPCO and AECC. In addition, SWEPCO and AECC have requested that a representative of SPP file direct testimony offering its independent view of the potential impact on the integrity of the SPP transmission system if Flint Creek is retired prior to replacement generating capacity or additional transmission lines in Northwest Arkansas being operational.
The commission in a Jan. 2 order said it finds that the public interest will be served by reopening the record of this proceeding. Additional direct testimony by SWEPCO and AECC has to be filed by noon on Jan. 11. Reply testimony by staff, the AG and the Sierra Club now has to be filed by noon on Feb. 22. A public evidentiary hearing is set for March 5.
SWEPCO, a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), filed the original application with the PSC in February 2012. It asked the commission for a declaratory order approving installation of $408.7m worth of new emissions controls on Flint Creek. The planned controls include: dry flue gas desulfurization (DFGD) equipment for SO2 control; activated carbon injection (ACI) for mercury; and Low NOx burners and over-fired air facilities for NOx control. The DFGD system selected by the project engineers will also include a pulse jet fabric filter, commonly called a baghouse.
Flint Creek is a single-unit, pulverized coal-fired plant with a net capacity of 528 MW and was placed in service in 1978. SWEPCO’s ownership portion of this unit is 264 MW net, and it is responsible for operating and maintaining the plant.