AEP begins permitting for clean-coal power plants

AEP begins permitting for clean-coal power plants

American Electric Power Company Inc. has applied for environmental permits from Ohio and West Virginia to build clean-coal power plants in both states.

The permits are for “integrated gasification combined cycle” facilities in Meigs County in southeastern Ohio and Mason County in West Virginia. Environmental protection agencies in each state will test the effects of emissions in the areas before approving construction. AEP cannot confirm how long the process will take, spokesman Pat Hemlepp said.

The clean-coal power plants will covert coal into synthesized gas that reportedly eliminates most of the sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and other emissions that come from burning coal. The synthesized gas fuels a combustion turbine generator, while the exhaust gas is used to heat steam that drives a steam turbine generator.

A timeline for construction of the Ohio plant, which AEP plans to work on first, has not been set. The company plans to begin building the West Virginia plant two years after construction on the Ohio facility begins.

The company hired Atlanta-based GE Energy and Frederick, Md.-based Bechtel Corp. last year to design the plants and AEP expects the companies to submit project costs later this month. Once a project cost is determined, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and Public Service Commission of West Virginia must approve bids to recover the costs of building and operating the plants from its customers, AEP said. Hemlepp said that process could take awhile if consumer groups oppose AEP’s cost-recovery plans.

“Once we receive final cost-recovery authority and legal challenges — if any — have been resolved, we will begin construction,” CEO Michael G. Morris said in a release.

PUCO in April ruled that AEP can recover up to $23.7 million in costs associated with preliminary engineering and architectural plans from its Ohio Power Co. and Columbus Southern Power Co. customers.

Columbus-based AEP (NYSE:AEP – News) delivers electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states.

Published October 3, 2006 by Business First

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