Kentucky PSC plans public sessions on Big Sandy/Mitchell coal swap

The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) will hold a meeting and teleconference on May 14 and 15 to take public comments on the proposal by Kentucky Power to purchase replacement generating capacity in order to retire the Big Sandy generating facility near Louisa, Ky.

Kentucky Power, a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), wants to get half of the Mitchell coal plant in West Virginia, which represents about 780 MW of capacity, to replace Big Sandy Unit 2, which represents about 800 MW of capacity that will be retired in 2015 due to clean-air needs. The smaller Big Sandy Unit 1 coal facility will be either retired or converted to firing natural gas, and so any replacement of its power is something of a separate issue.

Kentucky Power has about 173,400 customers in 20 counties in eastern Kentucky. Notable is that while AEP says the Big Sandy/Mitchell swap is much cheaper for ratepayers than its abandoned plan for a Big Sandy Unit 2 SO2 scrubber, the plan to close Big Sandy will mean a loss of local jobs at the power plant itself, and potentially through closure of coal mines in this region where the plant gets its coal.

The PSC, in a May 7 announcement, said the public outreach sessions are scheduled for:

  • Louisa (meeting), May 14, Lawrence County Community Center;
  • Whitesburg (teleconference), May 15, Whitesburg Campus, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College;
  • Hazard (teleconference), May 15, Multipurpose room, University Center of the Mountains (UCM), Hazard Community and Technical College Main Campus.

Both the meeting and the teleconference, with the teleconference to be shown at the same time in the two locations, will begin with a presentation by PSC staff on the regulatory processes governing the case and an overview of the Kentucky Power proposal. The teleconference will be broadcast live on the PSC website. A video recording of the Louisa meeting will be made available on the PSC website.

In addition to the public meetings, the PSC will conduct a formal evidentiary hearing in the case on May 29 at the PSC offices in Frankfort. It will be open to the public and may be viewed live on the PSC website.

Written comments will be accepted through the conclusion of the evidentiary hearing.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.