September 24, 2018 Read More →

Arkansas utilities agree: ‘No new coal’

Arkansas Business:

King Coal isn’t dead, but it’s being dethroned as the top fuel source for creating electric power in Arkansas.

“Out of favor is probably a good term” for coal’s status, Entergy Arkansas’ Kurt Castleberry said this month, noting market forces and growing environmental awareness among consumers that have made lower-emission natural gas-fueled generation and renewable sources like wind and solar a bigger part of the mix. “We’re not planning to build any new coal plants, but our existing coal plants still have life in them, and they’re economical, large-scale, and clean,” said Castleberry, Entergy Arkansas’ director of resource planning and market operations. “We’ll run them until their useful life expires.”

Entergy, the state’s largest electric utility with more than 700,000 customers, has seen coal fall from generating 20 percent of its power to less than 4 percent over the past few decades, partly a result of the utility’s continued reliance on its durable and emissions-free nuclear workhorse, Arkansas Nuclear One. That plant, in Russellville, carries some 70 percent of Entergy’s load.

The state’s not-for-profit electric cooperatives took 54 percent of their power from coal last year, including a share from their part ownership of Entergy’s coal plants in Independence and Jefferson counties, as well as 50 percent of the Flint Creek plant near Gentry and 11 percent of the John Turk plant near Hope, Arkansas’ newest coal plant. Southwestern Electric Power Co. of Shreveport, which serves nearly 120,000 customers in western Arkansas, gets 45 percent of its generation from coal, including power from the 624-megawatt Turk plant, opened in 2012.

“No new coal, I think we can make that declaration,” said Andrew Lachowsky, vice president of planning and market operations for Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp., echoing Castleberry.

More: Power balance shifting in Arkansas: coal crucial but losing ground

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