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Kentucky Utilities to retire 272MW coal power plants in 2019

EBR Staff Writer Published 17 November 2017

Kentucky Utilities Company (KU), a subsidiary of LG&E and KU Energy, plans to retire two aging coal-fired power plants with a combined capacity of around 272MW in the US state of Kentucky.

Both the power plants which will be closed in February 2019 are located in Mercer County, near Harrodsburg and are part of the E.W. Brown Generating Station.

According to KU, the decision to shutter them is due to stricter environmental regulations and also because of customers adopting energy-efficiency measures.

The 106MW Brown 1 unit is one of the two coal power plants which is set to be closed. It has been in operations for 60 years since 1957.

The other plant to be closed is the 166MW Brown 2 unit which has been generating power since 1963.

KU stated that it had considered several alternatives for complying with the expected stricter Environmental Protection Agency regulations before arriving at the decision. The regulations include the Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) rule and the expanded use of LED lighting and other energy efficiency measures.

KU says that based on these factors, it has come to a conclusion that closing of the two coal-fired units is the least-cost solution for customers.

LG&E and KU president and chief operating officer Paul W. Thompson said: “We are continually looking for opportunities to reduce costs for customers while maintaining a reliable supply of energy.

“Retiring two of our oldest and most expensive coal-fired generating units, while also avoiding more costly environmental capital expenditures for compliance, benefits our customers.”

The third coal-fired unit of the E.W. Brown Generating Station, 409MW Brown 3, which was commissioned in 1971, will not be impacted by the closures and will be continued to generate power.

KU revealed that Brown 1 and Brown 2 are the most expensive units in its coal fleet to operate and maintain on a dollars-per-megawatt of generation basis.

The electric utility also stated that financially it was not apt to invest millions of additional dollars to make the plants comply with the CCR rule, considering their age and relatively smaller size.

Despite the closures, KU says that it will not remove any employees because of new projects and normal attrition.


Image: E W Brown Generating Station viewed from KY 29. Photo: courtesy of Censusdata/Wikipedia.org.