Kentucky Power implodes cooling tower for retired Big Sandy Unit 2

A cooling tower at Kentucky Power‘s Big Sandy Power Plant that had been idled when EPA guidelines led to the closure of Unit 2 was imploded on Saturday, Sept. 24.

The Unit 2 cooling tower, measuring 395 feet in diameter at its base and reaching 370 feet into the sky, came tumbling down at 9 a.m. Some 500 pounds of explosives were used to bring down the tower.

Kentucky Power contractor Independence Demolition of Independence, Ohio, and explosive demolition specialist Dykon of Tulsa, Okla., led the tower demolition in collaboration with construction trades and employees. Representatives from local, county and state agencies in West Virginia and Kentucky, including law enforcement, highways, 911 emergency services, fish and wildlife, and others, assisted.

Big Sandy’s Unit 2 went online in 1969 and was the first in a series of five 800-MW units installed on the American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) system in a four-year period. Unit 2 was retired in May 2015 to comply with new environmental regulations, mainly the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. AEP subsidiary Kentucky Power replaced that capacity by purchasing from another AEP subsidiary a roughly 800-MW share of the Mitchell coal plant in West Virginia.

Big Sandy continues to use the Unit 1 cooling tower with the successful conversion from a coal-fired unit to a 280-MW, natural gas-burning unit in May 2016.

“From a historical perspective, this demolition is a milestone moment for AEP, Kentucky Power and eastern Kentucky,” said Kentucky Power President and COO Greg Pauley. “Unit 2 provided the region with safe, reliable and affordable electricity for nearly 50 years. While this event marks the end of an era, it also further cements Big Sandy’s new role.”

Kentucky Power, with headquarters in Frankfort, Ky., provides service to about 169,000 customers in 20 eastern Kentucky counties. 

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.