(The Center Square) – Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has come out against a proposal to spend $67 million on upgrades to a West Virginia power plant that would keep it operational through 2040.
Instead, in a filing with the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) last week, he recommends the plant move forward with a plan that would lead to its closure in 2028.
The Mitchell Power Plant in Moundsville, West Virginia, roughly 15 miles south of Wheeling, West Virginia, is operated by American Electric Power. The plant provides electricity to Kentucky Power customers. Kentucky Power, an AEP subsidiary, owns a 50% stake in the facility and serves more than 160,000 customers in 20 eastern Kentucky counties.
Kentucky Power is seeking state approval for the long-term project, saying it would give the company more time to consider replacement options for the plant and delay the spending of “hundreds of millions or billions of dollars” for a replacement.
“Mitchell’s capacity value, in the form of avoided high-cost new resources, would be there for customers through 2040 regardless of how much energy Mitchell generates between now and then,” the company said in its initial brief filed on June 15.
However, Cameron called on state regulators to approve a plan to spend $18 million that would keep the plant in operation in compliance with federal regulations but lead to its decommissioning in 2028.
His office isn’t the only group recommending the short-term alternative. Environmental advocacy group the Sierra Club has also called for the plant to close in 2028.
Cameron gave several reasons for his recommendation, including that Kentucky Power has overestimated how much solar power would cost and the company failed to see the tax benefits associated with the early closing.
Kentucky’s attorney general also noted the plant provides little economic value for the state. None of the 225 employees who worked there last year were Kentucky residents, and more than 99% of the coal burned at the Mitchell plant came from West Virginia mines.
“Total West Virginia tax revenue in 2020 was $10.4 million. Kentucky has never received any tax revenue from the Mitchell plant, nor will it in the future,” Cameron said in the brief.
In a response filed Thursday with the PSC, Kentucky Power said that it’s possible the West Virginia plant may use more Kentucky coal in the future, thanks in part to a state law passed earlier this year designed to make Kentucky coal more competitive with other states.
According to Ohio Valley ReSource, the Kentucky PSC will make a ruling by Aug. 8.