AEP readies transmission upgrades to support coal retirements

The AEP West Virginia Transmission (WV Transco) unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) filed a June 19 notice with the West Virginia Public Service Commission about plans to file cases covering transmission upgrades needed due to impending coal plant retirements.

The filing was a 30-day notice of the company’s intent for file for approval of these transmission projects, which have been mandated by PJM Interconnection. WV Transco said it will file an application;

  • to install a 765 kV/345 kV transformer at the coal-fired Mountaineer Station (which is not being closed);
  • to construct approximately one mile of 345-kV transformer lead (all on property of AEP’s Appalachian Power (APCo) unit) between the Mountaineer 765-kV Yard and the Sporn 345-kV Yard;
  • to install multiple circuit breakers at the Mountaineer and Sporn stations (Sporn is being retired); and
  • to replace other associated circuit breakers.

WV Transco will also file an application to construct certain projects related to the to-be-retired Kammer Station of APCo:

  • to rebuild the Brues-Sand Hill 138kV line;
  • to rebuild the 138 kV yard at Natrium;
  • to reconfigure the 138-kV layout at Brues; and
  • to add four 765-kV circuit breakers at Kammer and install and replace Phase 1 of the 765/345-kV transformer at Kammer.

WV Transco will also file an application to construct transmission facilities and to serve a new facility of an existing customer of AEP subsidiary Wheeling Power, Markwest Energy in Majorsville, W.Va. It plans in this case:

  • to install circuit breakers at the Warton Hill substation;
  • to extend by approximately 0.2 miles the existing 138-kV line to a new switch station, which will be known as Calis Switch Station; and
  • to construct the Calis Switch Station.

Since these projects have been mandated by PJM and will necessitate fairly aggressive schedules for regulatory approval and construction if they are to be in-service when required, WV Transco asked the commission to modify the 30-day notice period and allow these filings within the 30-day period. WV Transco had filed a prior 30-day notice letter on Feb. 22 that included work on the Mountaineer/Sporn and Kammer projects, but not the Markwest project.

AEP to retire a lot of coal-fired capacity in this region

In February 2012, AEP Ohio officially retired the coal-fired, 450-MW Sporn Unit 5 and at the end of 2012, the 165-MW Conesville Unit 3. In an Environmental Compliance Plan filed April 15 at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, AEP Ohio said that it will retire approximately 1,900 MW of capacity by June 1, 2015. Furthermore, based on a February 2013 modification of a New Source Review (NSR) Consent Decree with the federal government, Muskingum River Unit 5 will be  forced to stop burning coal by 2015; however, in lieu of retirement, the unit still has the option to be refueled with natural gas by Dec. 31, 2017.

The coal unit retirements by June 2015 are:

  • Kammer Units 1-3, West Virginia, 630 MW;
  • Muskingum River Units 1-4, Ohio, 840 MW;
  • Beckjord Unit 6, Ohio, 53 MW (AEP Ohio share of larger unit);
  • Picway Unit 5, Ohio, 100 MW; and
  • Philip Sporn Units 2 and 4, West Virginia, 300 MW.

AEP had a more expansive list of coal retirements in a Feb. 15 investor presentation. It said it has a total of 5,476 MW of coal retirements systemwide in the works through 2016, which is a category that doesn’t include conversions to natural gas. The retirement years, along with MW rating for any part of a co-owned plant controlled by AEP in West Virginia, are:

  • Philip Sporn 1-4, 450 MW, 2015;
  • Kanawha River 1 and 2, 200 MW apiece, 2015;
  • Kammer 1-3, 630 MW, 2015;
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.