Last units retired at Green River coal plant in western Kentucky

After 65 years of providing safe, reliable energy, Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities said Oct. 1 that they have shut the last units of the coal-fired Green River Station.

The company officially retired the plant’s final two units just before midnight on Sept. 30. Strategically located in western Kentucky, the plant played a key role in supporting the region’s dramatic economic growth by taking advantage of abundant, low-cost coal supplies in the area and serving as a critical energy hub that interconnected and supplied power to Kentucky Utilities’ entire system, the companies said. At the peak of its operations, the plant’s four generating units combined to produce more than 250 MW.

“This plant might be a small one by today’s standards, but it’s also been a mighty one,” said Green River Station General Manager Tom Troost. “It’s met the challenge of increased demand and endured flooding, ice storms and more than six decades of service in an industry that is constantly evolving.”

In 1974, the plant was the sight of KU’s first “scrubber,” which removed SO2 from Units 1 and 2. Later, special burners installed on Units 3 and 4 reduced the units’ NOx emissions rates by nearly half, and continuous-emission monitoring and combustion control systems further enhanced the facility’s environmental compliance efforts.

With increasing environmental mandates on coal-fired generation, Green River Units 1 and 2 were retired in 2004, reducing the plant’s capacity to 163 MW. Units 3 and 4, which were originally scheduled to retire in 2016, are retiring ahead of schedule due to early completion of regional transmission projects to enhance electric reliability for the region and grid as a whole, the utilities said.

The retirement completes the least cost compliance plans, announced by the utilities in 2011, to retire 13% — or 800 MW — of the company’s older, coal-fired generation as a result of stricter environmental mandates. Tyrone Station was retired in 2013 and Cane Run Units 4, 5 and 6 were retired earlier in 2015. 

Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities, part of PPL Corp. (NYSE: PPL), are regulated utilities that serve a total of 1.2 million customers. LG&E serves 321,000 natural gas and 400,000 electric customers in Louisville and 16 surrounding counties. KU serves 543,000 customers in 77 Kentucky counties and five counties in Virginia.

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.