AEP / Coal

Tale of two coal plants: Four decades of coal generation on the Kanawha

Cooling towers at the John E. Amos coal plant on the Kanawha River in Putnam County, W.Va. Photo: Sarah Smith

Cooling towers at the John E. Amos coal plant on the Kanawha River in Putnam County, W.Va.
Photo: Sarah Smith

WINFIELD, WV — “S&P Global Market Intelligence recently visited two of American Electric Power’s coal-fired power plants. One was the 609-MW John W. Turk Jr. UPC plant in Arkansas, a modern ultra-supercritical advanced coal plant that started operating about four years ago. The other is the 2,900-MW John E. Amos plant that went online in 1971 — more than four decades before Turk. This article focuses on the Amos plant.

Both plants, in very different ways, continue to convert coal intro electricity while navigating the complexities of state and federal clean-air regulations.

This article focuses on the Amos plant. To read the companion article about the Turk plant, click here.

Given all the talk about the purported end of coal-fired generation in the U.S., one might think a plant with more than four decades of service might be a little nervous, but at American Electric Power Co. Inc.‘s John E. Amos station, the coal is still burning.

…While the plant was engineered and constructed decades ago, the economics of its power production still work. Earlier this year, AEP said it was diversifying its resource base, but Amos and other fossil fuel plants will continue to operate under a 10-year forecasting window in the company’s latest integrated resource plan.

Amos plays a key part in Appalachian Power Co.‘s latest West Virginia and Virginia integrated resource plans. Appalachian Power, one of AEP’s regulated utility subsidiaries, took full ownership of the power plant in late 2013, acquiring unit 3 from sister utility Ohio Power Co.

The largest coal plant in AEP’s system, Amos was first brought into operation in 1971. With more than 2,900 MW of operating capacity, the plant has a massive footprint with 900-foot stacks looming over the Kanawha River. The plant was named for West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd’s first campaign manager, who also served as a Democratic National Committeeman.

While some states have actively promoted a shift away from coal, West Virginia has long shown largely bipartisan political and regulatory deference to supporting the coal industry, and Amos has played a role in that history. For example, after the U.S. EPA proposed potential new greenhouse gas emissions rules in 2012, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., staged a press conference at the plant, where he vowed to oppose the regulations.”

— Taylor Kuykendall, SNL Energy

link to full article

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