East Kentucky Power Cooperative plans to move 560,000 tons of coal ash across Clark County, including part of Interstate 64, beginning in August.
Dump trucks from The Allen Co. will haul the material 27 miles over public roads, including Ford Road, Ky. 627, the Winchester bypass, Interstate 64 and Ky. 89. The trucks won't go through downtown Winchester.
The electric cooperative will hold a public meeting Thursday in Winchester to provide information and to hear concerns from residents.
"We want to let the community know and give them an opportunity to ask questions," said Nick Comer, a spokesman for East Kentucky Power.
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Coal ash is the residue left over after coal is burned to produce electricity, and it contains pollutants such as arsenic and metals. The co-op will move the waste from the William C. Dale Station at Ford, near the Kentucky River in southwestern Clark County, to a new landfill at the J.K. Smith power plant near Trapp. The Kentucky Public Service Commission in March approved the co-op's plan to move the waste.
East Kentucky studied several other options, such as building a new, lined ash pit at the Dale plant, hauling the ash to a private landfill or trucking it to an impoundment at another co-op power plant in Mason County. But taking the waste across Clark County was the least expensive option. Even then, it will cost about $27 million to remove and transport the ash and construct the landfill at Smith Station.
The cost will be passed along to ratepayers with an estimated 34 cents a month added to the average residential bill.
Coal ash at the 80-acre Dale Station power plant is stored in two ash ponds and a coal-ash storage area. Most of the power plant site was built within the 100-year floodplain of the Kentucky River. Getting the ash off the riverbank ends any concern about it getting into, and fouling, the waterway.
Trucks capable of carrying 16 to 20 tons will haul an average of 132 truckloads a day. They will start on or about Aug. 3 and continue through October or November, but then stop for winter and resume in late spring of 2016. They would take another winter break in 2016-17 and then resume in the spring of 2017.
The site at the Smith power plant covers more than 3,200 acres, so the co-op says there is ample dirt to cover the landfill.
Coal ash has been trucked from Dale Station to Smith Station before, Comer said. Over the course of several years, ash was used as "structural fill" when natural gas-fired generating units were put in at Smith Station, Comer said. Ash has also been hauled from Dale Station to a landfill on East Kentucky Power's main office property on U.S. 60 in Winchester.
"What we're doing is nothing new," Comer said. "It's been done many times before."
Some ash from Dale Station goes to an Indiana company to make cement, but not all of it can be recycled, Comer said.
Dale Station has been in operation since the 1950s and is East Kentucky Power's oldest power plant. The co-op needs to move the ash because it has decided to shut down the Dale plant, which has four coal-fired generating units, two of them 60 years old. Two generating units are still operating but they will shut down in April 2016.
With Dale out of service, East Kentucky Power probably couldn't get a state permit to leave the coal ash at the site because standards are stricter now than when the utility began storing the ash there in the 1950s.
Dale Station will still play a role for the co-op because it has transmission lines and a substation. Those will continue to operate after the generating units at Dale are deactivated.
East Kentucky Power has about 520,000 customers in 87 Eastern and Central Kentucky counties.