January 9, 2020 Read More →

Arkansas regulators approve plan to close 721MW Dolet Hills coal plant

Power Magazine:

The Arkansas Public Service Commission on Jan. 8 approved a plan to retire the Dolet Hills power plant, a coal-fired unit in Mansfield, Louisiana that serves part of the state. The Sierra Club, one of the environmental groups that had called for the plant’s closure, announced the Arkansas PSC had approved a settlement with Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), a partner in sharing the plant’s electricity production with plant owner Central Louisiana Electric Co. (Cleco).

The Dolet Hills plant burns lignite. The facility’s one coal-fired unit entered service in 1986. Cleco in January 2019 had said it would only operate the plant during summer months.

Cleco had invested in upgrades to the Dolet Hills plant in 2015 and 2016, and had previously said the plant was not expected to retire until 2046. Environmental groups had long sought closure of the plant due to pollution concerns.

Both SWEPCO and Cleco in their 2019 integrated resource plans (IRP) said they were preparing to shift their focus away from Dolet Hills, instead concentrating on power generation from other sources, including renewables. SWEPCO in its IRP had said it would “continue to evaluate operations” of the Louisiana plant.

Cleco in its IRP said it wanted to procure up to 400 MW of electricity from solar, and up to 1 GW of capacity from wind, by 2038. SWEPCO, a subsidiary of American Electric Power, in its IRP said it plans to add 1.4 GW of wind generation capacity over the next decade.

Cleco in its August 2019 IRP filing said prices for lignite coal had increased, negatively impacting the economics of the Dolet Hills plant, and noting “the economic difficulties that this coal unit is experiencing,” particularly when competing with natural gas-fired power in a state that ranks behind only Texas, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma in natural gas production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

[Darrell Proctor]

More: Deal announced to close Louisiana coal unit

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