Kentucky Utilities weighs retirement of two Brown coal units

Kentucky Utilities d/b/a Old Dominion Power, said in brief mentions in a Sept. 3 filing at the Virginia State Corporation Commission that it is considering whether to retire the coal-fired E. W. Brown Units 1 and 2 in Kentucky.

In 2013, Kentucky Utilities was originally scheduled to file a full integrated resource plan (IRP) with the Virginia commission. However, it advised the commission that the 2013 filing would consist of a narrative summary filing, including an updated load forecast, due to an anticipated IRP filing at the Kentucky Public Service Commission in 2014.

Said the Sept. 3 filing at one point: “Brown Units 1 and 2 are assumed to be retrofitted with environmental controls and continue to operate beyond 2015. The Companies are currently evaluating responses to an RFP for meeting their future energy and capacity needs. The decision to retire or retrofit Brown 1-2 is being revisited in the context of this analysis.”

Another similar passage says: “The Companies are currently evaluating responses to an RFP for meeting their future energy and capacity needs. The decision to retire or retrofit Brown Units 1 and 2 is being revisited in the context of this analysis.”

In a section for expected capacity additions, the utility shows two projects, both gas-fired:

  • Operating in May 2015, 2×1 combined cycle combustion turbine facility, at Cane Run plant site in Kentucky, 640 MW net summer capacity; and
  • June 2018, 2×1 combined cycle combustion turbine, undetermined site, 605 MW net summer capacity.

The filing doesn’t have any information on the Brown plant. “Situated on the banks of Lake Herrington near Harrodsburg, Ky., the E.W. Brown Plant is unique in that it showcases three generations of electricity-producing processes — a hydroelectric plant, three fossil-fueled generating units and seven combustion turbines,” said the website of Kentucky Utilities and sister utility Louisville Gas and Electric“The three coal-fired generators can produce 749 megawatts of electricity, more than one-fifth of KU’s total capacity. An average of 1.5 million tons of coal is burned annually at E.W. Brown Station.”

Said the website about plant air emissions: “As a result of the new stricter Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations, improvements will be made on Brown Unit 3 and the Brown ash pond will be converted to a dry storage landfill. Brown units 1 and 2 will continue to operate as always and the installation of additional emission controls will be deferred to get a clearer picture of pending federal environmental regulations.”

The GenerationHub database shows these capacity figures for the Brown coal units:

  • Unit 1, 114 MW nameplate, 101 MW net summer;
  • Unit 2, 180 MW nameplate, 167 MW net summer; and
  • Unit 3, 464 MW nameplate, 429 MW net summer.

KU on Aug. 29 reported to the Kentucky PSC its fuel data for the November 2012-April 2013 half-year review period. It reported that Brown during that period burned 665,824 tons of coal and had a 45.3% capacity factor. As of April 30, the coal inventory for the plant stood at 149,527 tons or 23 days of supply, with the plant’s target being 23-48 days. U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows that suppliers to the plant earlier this year included Indiana producers Triad Mining, Solar Sources and the Somerville mine of Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU).

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.