The AEP I&M Tanners Creek Power Plant in Lawrenceburg.
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – A move to meet federal Environmental Protection Agency regulations announced Monday by American Electric Power could force the complete closure of the Tanners Creek Power Plant in Lawrenceburg.
Indiana Michigan Power, a division of AEP that operates the Tanners Creek Station, has reached an agreement that will allow I&M to utilize a different compliance strategy at the Rockport Power Plant, located in Spencer County, Indiana.
In a trade off for reducing output at three other plants, I&M will be allowed to install cheaper pollution controls in Rockport. Prior to the new agreement, I&M had requested Indiana’s approval for a dry scrubber on one of the two 1300 megawatt Rockport units in order to scale down to the EPA requirements.
However, estimates for the single dry scrubber project were $1.4 billion. The new agreement allows for dry sorbent injection, or DSI, technology at each Rockport generator. DSI is about one-fifth the cost of a dry scrubber, meaning significant savings to I&M Customers, the company said.
“This is a great day for I&M, our customers, and the environment, as we will achieve cleaner air at a lower overall cost,” said Paul Chodak, I&M’s president, in a release. “Investments driven by changes in the utility industry will require increases in our rates, but our strategy is to increase rates as little as possible in order to maintain our lower rates and the competitive advantage that our customers enjoy today."
It may not be a great day for the employees at the Tanners Creek Plant on the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg. The new strategy includes either refueling or retiring Tanners Creek generating Unit 4.
In June 2011, AEP announced it would shut down three of the four generating units – 1, 2, and 3 – at Tanners Creek by 2015 in order to meet EPA emissions regulations. If Unit 4 is retired, Tanners Creek would, in essence, be shut down, said I&M spokeswoman Sarah Bodner
Jobs at the Tanners Creek Plant may be in serious risk of being eliminated. The plant employs 111 people, according to plant general manager Tim Lana.
The agreement also means closing generators at two other AEP affiliated plants: the Muskingum River Power Plant Unit 5 in Ohio and the Big Sandy Power Plant Unit 2 in Kentucky. The more than 200 megawatts of electricity lost by the closures will be made up with the same amount of new wind energy projects by AEP.
In a statement of its own issued Monday, environmental organization Earthjustice said the closures at the three plants will prevent 203 deaths, 310 heart attacks, 3,160 asthma attacks and 188 emergency room visits each year.
“Tanners Creek, Big Sandy, and Muskingum River are dirty and outdated plants that should have been cleaned up or retired decades ago,” said Shannon Fisk, an attorney with Earthjustice who was co-counsel for Sierra Club on the agreement. “We’re glad AEP is going to retire these aging dinosaurs, and urge the company to ensure an equitable transition for the workers and communities most directly impacted by these retirements.”
AEP will spend $5 billion over the next 12 years installing pollution controls on plants in its aging, coal-fired fleet in the Eastern United States. The plan is to cut its annual sulfur dioxide emissions from 828,000 tons to 174,000 tons in that time.
Coal energy provides 32 percent of the nation’s electricity, but is also a leading source of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and mercury.
The AEP agreement does not affect the gas generating plant located near the Tanners Creek station, but closer to U.S. 50 in Lawrenceburg. That gas facility is operated by OVEK, another AEP subsidiary.
Read the press release from Indiana Michigan Power here, https://www.indianamichiganpower.com/info/news/viewRelease.aspx?releaseID=1358. The press release from Earthjustice is available at http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2013/american-electric-power-agrees-to-retire-three-coal-fired-power-plants-in-major-clean-air-and-climate-victory.