AEP reports big coal inventories at Mitchell coal plant in West Virginia

Coal inventory at the shut Big Sandy power plant in eastern Kentucky was recently zeroed out, while the coal inventories at the Mitchell power plant in northern West Virginia have lately been well over target, said Kentucky Power in a fuel report filed Feb. 19 at the Kentucky Public Service Commission.

The 800-MW Big Sandy 2 coal unit was retired last year, while Unit 1 is going through a coal-to-gas conversion, thus the reason for taking the coal inventory there to zero. Kentucky Power, a unit of American Electric Power, has acquired half (about 800 MW of a 1,600-MW plant) of Mitchell as a replacement for Big Sandy Unit 2.

For the fuel report period May-October 2015, the actual amount of coal burned in tons, the actual amount of coal deliveries in tons, the total kWh generated, and the actual capacity factor at which the plant operated were:

Big Sandy

  • Coal Burned, tons 378,113
  • Coal Delivered, tons 336,059
  • Total Generated MWh 936,300
  • Capacity Factor 51.4%


  • Coal Burned, tons 540,848
  • Coal Delivered, tons 574,701
  • kWH Net Generated 1,311,177,500
  • Capacity Factor 38.07%

As of Oct. 31, 2015 Kentucky Power’s actual coal inventory levels (company share) were as follows:

  • Big Sandy: 13,075 tons, or 5 days of supply
  • Mitchell High Sulfur: 161,862 tons, or 42 days of supply, against a 15-day target inventory; and
  • Mitchell Low Sulfur: 166,353 tons, or 44 days of supply, against a 30-day target.

“Fall maintenance outages in September and October at the Mitchell plant, along with low power prices and weaker than usual demand, markedly reduced coal consumption,” said the report. “In addition, the inventory increased due to contractual supply commitments.”

The higher target inventory for low-sulfur coal at Mitchell is apparently because that coal has to come from more distant locations, meaning more vulnerability to transportation problems, while the plant takes high-sulfur coal from nearby suppliers, including by conveyor belt from an adjacent mine.

Big Sandy Unit 2 was retired in May 2015, and Big Sandy Unit 1 stopped consuming coal in November 2015 in advance of that unit converting to natural gas. As of Nov. 12, 2015, all coal inventory at Big Sandy had been consumed. Kentucky Power does not expect any significant changes in the coal inventory target for the Mitchell plant within the next 12 months.

The company noted that during the period May-October 2015 period, the number of fuel buyer positions in the “Coal” group and the “Reagents and Coal Combustion Products” group was reduced from three to two in each group. The reductions were made to align staffing with personnel needs in each group.

Coal purchases and suppliers during the covered period, with figures representing Kentucky Power’s 50% share of Mitchell, were: 

  • Alpha Coal Sales Co. LLC, Contract, 245,975 tons;
  • Beech Fork Processing, Spot, 81,786;
  • Blackhawk Mining LLC, Spot, 20,912;
  • Consolidation Coal/McElroy Coal, Contract, 216,562;
  • EDF Trading North America LLC, Spot, 4,297;
  • Ember Energy LLC, Spot, 5,093;
  • Koch Carbon LLC, Contract, 53,618;
  • Koch Carbon LLC, Spot, 65,432;
  • Kolmar Americas, Spot, 13,333;
  • MR Coal Marketing & Trading LLC, Spot, 20,913;
  • Noble Americas Corp., Spot, 128,798;
  • Patriot Coal Sales LLC, Spot, 33,659;
  • Producers Coal Inc., Spot, 10,369;
  • Sabbatical Inc., Spot, 10,014
  • Grand Total, 910,761 tons.
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.