The state Public Service Commission has set meetings for the public to comment on plans to shut down the larger of two coal-fired power units at Kentucky Power's Big Sandy plant north of Louisa.
The changes come as utilities seek to comply with stricter federal environmental regulations that have seen many companies, including Kentucky Utilities, turn toward natural gas instead of coal.
In December, Kentucky Power submitted its plan to retire the 800-megawatt unit at Big Sandy in mid-2015. Kentucky Power would instead purchase a 50 percent stake in AEP Ohio's Mitchell power plant, which is south of Moundsville, W.Va. Both Kentucky Power and AEP Ohio are subsidiaries of American Electric Power.
The proposal would cost around $536 million and result in an 8 percent increase in customers' bills. That would be around $6 more per month for a typical residential customer, according to a PSC statement.
Those costs are far less than the original plan for Big Sandy. Kentucky Power initially requested to upgrade the unit at a cost of nearly $1 billion. It withdrew that request in May.
Kentucky Power is still determining what to do with a 278-megawatt unit at Big Sandy. That unit was to be shut down under Kentucky Power's initial proposal. But the utility has since issued a request for proposals to consider converting it to a natural gas unit. Kentucky Power spokesman Ronn Robinson said those are due in June.
IF YOU GO
Public meetings on Kentucky Power's proposal for the Big Sandy power plant will be held in the following cities:
Hazard: 5 p.m. May 15. University Center of the Mountains, Hazard Community and Technical College main campus.
Louisa: 5 p.m. May 14. Lawrence County Community Center,.
Whitesburg: 5 p.m. May 15. Room 203 of the Whitesburg campus of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College.
The Hazard and Whitesburg meetings will be on-site teleconferences linking them with the PSC's offices in Frankfort.
Written comments will also be accepted at the meetings, by email from the PSC website, PSC.ky.gov; mailed to P.O. Box 615, Frankfort, Ky. 40602; or faxed to (502) 564-9625.