American Electric Power may have changed its mind about the future of the coal-fired Big Sandy Power Plant in Eastern Kentucky. The company has an application pending with the Kentucky Public Service Commission to install pollution controls at the plant to continue burning coal. But WFPL has learned that AEP filed to withdraw the application today.
Now, instead of moving ahead with the retrofit of the Big Sandy plant, the company plans to re-evaluate alternatives to comply with upcoming air pollution standards.
Spokesman Ronn Robinson said the company made the decision to reconsider alternatives to coal because outlooks suggest more energy capacity in the market in the next few years. “We will look at everything again,” he said. “We will look at the continued use of coal, the scrubber may stay an option, we will look at gas, we will do a total review, in light of the new energy landscape to make the decision that’s in the best interest of our customers and ratepayers.”
Earthjustice attorney Shannon Fisk represented environmental groups that intervened in the case, arguing that it would be more cost-effective to replace the plant’s capacity with a mix of other natural gas, renewable energy and efficiency measures.
Fisk called AEP’s application withdrawal a victory for both the environment and ratepayers, and said it’s a move that he hopes will be noticed around the country.
“It’s clearly not economic to retrofit this coal plant in the heart of coal country,” he said. “And that really sends a message for coal plants throughout the country, if it’s not even economic to do it in Kentucky, it’s certainly not economic to be spending hundreds of millions, even a billion dollars on aging coal infrastructure like Ohio and Michigan and Tennessee.”