SWEPCO to retire the coal-fired Welsh Unit 2 in 2016

Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCo) plans to retire the coal-fired Welsh Unit 2, said the utility in a March 16 fuel cost filing at the Arkansas Public Service Commission.

Said the filing in a section about clean-air compliance: “The Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS) final rule was published in the federal register on February 16, 2012 and has a compliance deadline of April 16, 2015. This rule imposes stringent emissions limits, on a unit-by-unit basis, for mercury, acid gases and several other hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). SWEPCO’s proposed compliance strategy will consist of the installation of environmental controls on Flint Creek, Welsh Units 1 & 3, Pirkey and Dolet Hills coal-fired units. Welsh Unit 2 is scheduled to be retired.”

The filing doesn’t say precisely when this unit will be retired. A list of planned coal unit retirements on the website of SWEPCo parent American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) shows that the 528-MW Welsh Unit 2 is due to be retired sometime in 2016.

SWEPCo currently has three coal-fired plants that utilize Powder River Basin (PRB) coal as their primary fuel. Welsh, which is wholly owned by SWEPCo, has three 528-MW units. Flint Creek has one 528-MW unit and is jointly owned by SWEPCO (50%) and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC) (50%). Turk, which has one 650-MW unit, is majority owned by SWEPCO (73.333%) and minority owned by AECC (11.667%), East Texas Electric Cooperative (8.333%), and Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority (6.667%). SWEPCo, as plant operator, has fuel procurement responsibilities for the entire capacity at all three facilities.

SWEPCo currently co-owns two lignite plants. Pirkey is a 675-MW unit that is jointly owned by SWEPCo, Northeast Texas Electric Cooperative (NTEC) and Oklahoma Municipal Public Authority (OMPA). SWEPCo’s ownership is interest is 85.936%. The Dolet Hills station is a 650 MW lignite-fueled unit which is operated by Cleco Power LLC. Dolet Hills is jointly owned by Cleco, SWEPCo, NTEC and OMPA. SWEPCo’s ownership interest is 40.234%. Lignite is supplied to the Pirkey plant with deliveries from the lignite reserves SWEPCo owns or leases. These reserves are mined for SWEPCo by the Sabine Mining Co. At Dolet Hills, lignite is primarily provided from adjacent lignite reserves mined by the Dolet Hills Lignite Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of SWEPCo.

Also, in relation to a just-proposed EPA federal implementation plan (FIP) to combat regional haze, the filing said: “SWEPCO received a preliminary copy of the proposed rule on March 11, 2015, and will provide comments on the rule prior to it becoming final in the coming months. Affected sources will be required to comply with the new emissions requirements as expeditiously as practicable, but in no event later than five years from the date of final FIP approval. Sources subject to [Best Available Retrofit Technology], including the Flint Creek Plant, will continue to work with [Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality] to remedy the identified deficiencies.” 

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.