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The John E. Amos Power Plant near Winfield is one of three coal-fired power plants in West Virginia that will receive upgrades to its coal ash disposal system to comply with EPA regulations.

Three power plants in West Virginia are among those slated for improvements in their ash handling systems as American Electric Power brings them into compliance with federal regulations.

AEP announced last week that it will install dry bottom ash handling systems or new lined ash ponds at the John E. Amos Power Plant near Winfield in Putnam County, the Mountaineer Power Plant near New Haven in Mason County and the Mitchell Power Plant near Moundsville in Marshall County. A power plant in Arkansas will also receive a new ash handling system.

The systems are to be operational in 2023. They will meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines for coal combustion residuals (CCR) and effluent limitation guidelines (EGL). Existing ash ponds at the plants will be closed. The ash in them will be moved to regulated landfills.

“At our Amos, Mountaineer and Mitchell plants, we will either install a dry bottom ash system or install a new ash pond under the updated CCR rules. Additional wastewater treatment systems will be necessary at each of the facilities to meet the ELG requirements,” said Phil Moye, spokesman for AEP subsidiary Appalachian Power.

“Later this month we will submit plans for each of the sites for approval by the U.S. EPA. The EPA then has four months to make a determination on our plans to meet updated CCR rules. Once we know the exact work that will be required at each site, we will be able to determine costs.”

AEP also announced it plans to make upgrades to the ash pond system and continue operating Rockport Plant Unit 1 at Rockport, Indiana, until its previously announced retirement date of 2028. Additionally, AEP will not renew the lease for its 1,310-MW Rockport Plant Unit 2 when it expires in 2022.

Along with the improvements at those coal-burning plants, AEP announced it will retire the Pirkey Plant in 2023 and cease using coal at the Welsh Plant in 2028. Both plants are in Texas.

“As we look at the future of our power plant fleet, we’ve balanced the remaining life and economic viability of each of our coal-fueled generating units with other options for delivering power to our customers,” Nicholas K. Akins, AEP’s chairman, president and CEO, said in the announcement. “We continue to add lower-cost, cleaner resources, like renewables and natural gas, as we diversify our generating fleet to benefit our customers and the environment. We have retired or sold nearly 13,500 MW of coal-fueled generation in the last decade.”

Among those retirements were the Kanawha River Plant near Glasgow in Kanawha County and the Philip Sporn Plant near New Haven.

A few years ago, AEP sold one of the largest coal-burning plants on its system — the Gavin plant at Cheshire, Ohio — to Lightstone Generation LLC, a joint venture of The Blackstone Group L.P. and ArcLight Capital Partners.

In September, as part of an agreement to secure a rate increase in Virginia, Appalachian Power agreed to examine what would happen if Amos and Mountaineer were taken out of service ahead of schedule. As AEP evaluates the future of its coal-burning fleet, it is adding more renewable generating capacity.

Last week AEP subsidiary AEP Energy Partners said it is seeking for power from new solar and new wind facilities located in Ohio and the Southwest. For the Ohio-sited projects, AEP wants renewable energy purchase agreements of 10, 12 or 15 years for solar or wind facilities that begin operation between 2021 and 2023.

AEPEP will use the contracted offtake to support the company’s growing loads in Ohio and Texas, including the recently passed Electric Service Aggregation Program by the city of Columbus, Ohio.

During the general election last week, Columbus voters approved the program to contract with sources using solar, wind and battery to provide residents and small businesses competitively priced, clean electricity from a retail generation supplier certified by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Residential and commercial customers may opt out of the program and purchase their electricity from other providers if they so desire.

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