AEP asks PJM for June 2015 deactivation of Big Sandy coal unit

In a move that was no surprise, American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) on Jan. 21 asked PJM Interconnection for a June 1, 2015, deactivation date for the 800-MW, coal-fired Unit 2 at the Big Sandy power plant in eastern Kentucky.

A PJM list of pending deactivation requests, updated to Jan. 22, said that this AEP request has triggered a grid reliability analysis process. The list, by the way, doesn’t show any pending request for Big Sandy Unit 1. Big Sandy Unit 1 is a 260-MW coal unit that would be either shut or preferrably refueled to 278 MW of natural gas-fired capacity.

The key components of Kentucky Power’s 2013 integrated resource plan (IRP), filed Dec. 23, 2013, at the Kentucky Public Service Commission, include the acquisition of 50% of the coal-fired Mitchell plant in West Virginia. The PSC approved the Mitchell buy earlier in 2013 as a replacement for a similar amount of capacity at Big Sandy Unit 2.

The major elements of the IRP are:

  • Transfer a 50% undivided ownership interest of the Mitchell Plant (780 MW) from affiliate Ohio Power Co. (OPCo) to Kentucky Power, to replace the 800-MW Big Sandy Unit 2 which is scheduled to retire in 2015;
  • Convert Big Sandy Unit 1 (278 MW) to burn natural gas instead of coal;
  • Continue to purchase 393 MW of power from the Rockport coal units in Indiana;
  • Make increased investment in demand-side management; and
  • Purchase the output of the 58.5-MW ecoPower Hazard LLC biomass plant starting in 2017.

Kentucky Power on Dec. 6, 2013, applied at the Kentucky PSC for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to convert Unit 1 at the Big Sandy plant from a coal-fired unit to a natural gas-fired facility. The application, which is still pending, seeks about $50m in conversion costs.

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.