The Kentucky Public Service Commission is set to decide soon whether American Electric Power can keep burning coal at an eastern Kentucky power plant.
Kentucky Power’s Big Sandy Power Plant in Lawrence County burns coal, and the company, which is owned by American Electric Power, is asking for PSC approval to install pollution controls to comply with federal regulations and continue burning coal.
But several entities intervening in the case argue that coal isn’t the least-cost option, considering that federal carbon regulations may be in store in the next few decades.
Kentucky Power’s first witness, regulatory director Ranie Wohnhas, was on the stand most of the day. He argues that it makes financial sense for the Big Sandy plant to keep burning coal, especially when the economic impact to eastern Kentucky is taken into account.
“But if those jobs go ahead, that’s something that hurts the economy in that area,” says Wohnhas.
But the commissioners aren’t allowed to take that into account when they make their decision, only what provides reliable power at the lowest cost to ratepayers.