Last updated: July 18. 2013 7:44PM - 491 Views
Ralph B. Davis

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The state Public Service Commission will hold hearings next month on a plan by Kentucky Power to replace the bulk of generation at the Big Sandy Power Plant, which the utility says will bump electric bills 8 percent.

The proposal is the first half of Kentucky Power’s plan to end all coal-fired electricity generation at the Lawrence County plant. Under the proposal, the utility would purchase a half interest in Ohio Power’s Mitchell plant, in Moundsville, W.Va. The purchase would give Kentucky Power 780 megawatts of capacity from Moundsville, which would almost entirely replace the 800-megawatt No. 2 generator at Big Sandy, which is scheduled to close in mid-2015.

The purchase will cost Kentucky Power $536 million, which will be passed on to customers in the form of an estimated 8 percent hike on power bills. The utility estimates the average customer will pay an additional $6 a month.

The plan does not address the impending closure of the No. 1 generator at Big Sandy. Kentucky Power is still evaluating alternatives to the 278-megawatt generator, and has requested proposals for 250 megawatts from suppliers. The utility said it is also considering refitting the generator to burn natural gas.

The cost of the plan is roughly half of the nearly $1 billion plan to install a scrubber to clean emissions at the Big Sandy plant, which Kentucky Power had proposed in 2011. That plan was later scrapped following public outcry at the proposed 30 percent increase in power bills.

The first of the hearings will be held at 5 p.m., May 14, at the Lawrence County Community Center, in Louisa.

The next day, a teleconference will be held linking the PSC’s Frankfort office with sites in Whitesburg and Hazard. The Whitesburg teleconference will take place in Room 203 of the Whitesburg campus of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. The Hazard teleconference will take place in the multipurpose room of the University Center of the Mountains, at Hazard Community and Technical College.

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