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American Electric Power to take 1,633MW of coal capacity in Texas offline by 2028

November 06, 2020

E&E News:

Two major power plants in East Texas will stop using coal within the coming decade, American Electric Power Co. said yesterday.

AEP’s Southwestern Electric Power Co. announced the Pirkey plant is slated to retire in 2023, while the company will stop coal operations at the Welsh plant in 2028. AEP owns 1,633 megawatts of capacity from those plants combined.

The moves continue a shift at Ohio-based AEP and the power sector in general, as aging coal plants are being sidelined over costs and emissions concerns. But the company indicated that a number of other coal-fueled plants will continue operating, and it suggested that Welsh could find new life beyond coal. AEP said compliance with environmental regulations, including EPA’s coal combustion residuals (CCR) rule, factored into its decision.

At the same time, the company said it plans to upgrade the ash pond system and operate the 1,310-MW Unit 1 at the Rockport plant in Indiana until a previously outlined 2028 retirement. The company said it won’t renew a lease for the 1,310-MW Unit 2 at Rockport once it expires in 2022.

As for the Welsh plant, the company will monitor market conditions and evaluate other factors to determine the best path for the plant, said Carey Sullivan, a SWEPCO spokeswoman. And it will analyze “a possible conversion to natural gas” at the site, she said. SWEPCO could use purchased power to fill any short-term capacity needs related to the retirement of Pirkey, according to Sullivan, while longer-term needs would be part of an ongoing resource planning process.

The Pirkey and Welsh plants that are slated to stop using coal in the coming decade are located in the region managed by the Southwest Power Pool. A sign of changing times was apparent elsewhere in Texas yesterday, as the state’s main power grid operator said its region is on track to install record amounts of wind, batteries and utility-scale solar in 2020.

[Edward Klump]

More: 2 major Texas power plants to exit coal

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