PJM gets requests to shut 1,100 MW of AEP coal capacity

American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) on Oct. 11 asked PJM Interconnection for clearance to deactivate as of June 1, 2015, a total of 1,100 MW of coal-fired capacity at the Muskingum River and Tanners Creek power plants.

To be deactivated are the 600-MW Muskingum River Unit 5 in Ohio, and the 500-MW Tanners Creek Unit 4 in Indiana, said a list of pending deactivations issued by PJM and updated to Oct. 14. PJM said a reliability analysis is underway in both cases to see if these shutdowns will cause any grid reliability concerns.

The Muskingum River Unit 5 deactivation request follows March 2012 requests for the June 1, 2015, shutdowns of Muskingum River Unit 1 (190 MW), Unit 2 (190 MW), Unit 3 (205 MW) and Unit 4 (205 MW). AEP said July 11 that it reached an agreement with other parties in February to modify the company’s 2007 New Source Review Consent Decree and give AEP the option to retire Muskingum River Unit 5 or refuel it with natural gas. Due to the cost of compliance with environmental regulations and current market conditions, AEP decided that it is unlikely to make the capital investment to refuel the unit.

There was also a March 2012 request to deactivate on June 1, 2015, Tanners Creek Unit 1 (145 MW), Unit 2 (145 MW) and Unit 3 (198 MW). The new request for Unit 4 is because AEP’s Indiana Michigan Power unit also recently decided to not switch that unit to firing gas, choosing to shut it instead.

U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows Muskingum River taking coal earlier this year from eastern Kentucky mines through Southern Coal Sales and from the McElroy longwall mine in northern West Virginia of CONSOL Energy. EIA data shows Tanners Creek taking coal this year from several West Virginia mines through Mercuria Energy Trading and Alpha Coal, and from the Cumberland longwall mine in Pennsylvania of Alpha.

Indiana Michigan Power said in a Sept. 30 filing at the Michigan Public Service Commission that at Tanners Creek Units 1-3, the projected coal take is 448,000 tons in 2014, then only 43,000 tons in 2015, their final year of operation. At Tanners Creek Unit 4, the projected coal take is 1.2 million tons in 2014, then only 235,000 tons in 2015, which is the final year of operation for this unit, as well.

Tanners Creek Units 1-3 are limited to emissions of 1.2 lbs SO2/MMBtu and Unit 4 has been modified to a 1.2% sulfur standard on an annual basis. As a result of the different air emission standards, as well as differences in the boiler designs, the coal supplies for Tanners Creek 1-3 and Tanners Creek 4 vary in order to meet the differing coal quality needs. The fuel requirements of Tanners Creek 1-3 will be met from bituminous sources located in Colorado and/or from eastern bituminous sources. Tanners Creek 4, similar to Indiana Michigan’s Rockport plant, can use a blend of subbituminous and bituminous coals.

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.