Big Rivers now wants to idle Coleman, plus sell generating capacity

Finding that recent Big Rivers Electric plans to possibly idle its coal-fired Wilson or Coleman power plants have been talked about enough beforehand, the Kentucky Public Service Commission on June 28 refused to call off a July 1 hearing.

Big Rivers Electric is pursuing a large and controversial rate hike due to the impending loss of much of its generating load due to the defection and/or shutdown of aluminum smelter operations that use much of the electricity that Big Rivers generates.

The state Attorney General, by and through his Office of Rate Intervention, and also Ben Taylor and the Sierra Club in a joint motion, had requested that the July 1 formal evidentiary hearing be rescheduled. They said this was because June 24 rebuttal testimony from Big Rivers disclosed for the first time the company’s decision to idle the Coleman plant rather than the Wilson plant, subject to certain reliability studies being conducted by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator.

The parties also said that Big Rivers announced on June 25 yet another plan to either sell both Coleman and Wilson or idle those generating units. They contended that such disclosures represent a material change to Big Rivers’ rate application because, until now, the vast majority of the data Big Rivers provided both in its application and in discovery responses focused solely on its initial proposal to idle Wilson. The parties argued that they are entitled to have an opportunity to conduct further discovery to focus on these material changes to Big Rivers’ rate application.

Big Rivers contended that the facts cited by movants are not an amendment to the company’s rate application. Big Rivers noted that its proposal to idle Wilson was an interim assumptionbased on information known at the time of the filing of its rate application. Big Rivers argued that information concerning its plans to potentially sell its generating assets have been disclosed and the subject of discovery throughout the proceeding.

The commission in its June 28 order found that the movants have failed to establish good cause to require rescheduling of the July 1 hearing. “The Commission notes that all intervenors in this matter, including Movants, will have a full opportunity at the hearing to address, via cross examination, any and all of the issues raised by Big Rivers’ decisions to idle its Coleman Generating Station and potentially sell some of its generating assets,” the PSC added.

Big Rivers owns and operates 1,444 MW of generating capacity in four stations: Robert A. Reid (130 MW); Kenneth C. Coleman (443 MW); Robert D. Green (454 MW); and D.B. Wilson (417 MW).

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.