Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kammer's future

This is the Kammer power plant on the West Virginia side of the Ohio River a few miles below Moundsville, W.Va., as seen from the Ohio side. Notice there's no smoke, if any, coming from the stacks. And there are no cooling towers and no big pollution control equipment.

American Electric Power has announced that Kammer is one of the smaller, older plants it plans to close completely by Dec. 31, 2014. It's one of several along the Ohio River that are closing or have closed through a combination of economic and environmental reasons.

A few weeks ago, I was talking with AEP CEO Nick Akins about the possibility of some of these old coal-fired plants being converted to burn gas. He said that's been studied. The advantage of these site is that they have a lot of the permits and the infrastructure in place already. He would not say whether any will be converted to gas,

So we'll have to wait and see what AEP does with Kammer and Sporn on the Ohio River and Kanawha River on the Kanawha River. Likewise, FirstEnergy is about to shut down the Willow Island station just above the Willow Island Locks and Dam. For the record, that's a small plant. The big one nearby with the cooling towers and such is the Pleasants power station.

Now that I think about it, I had a "duh" moment. A lot of the newer coal-fired plants that I'm familiar with were built close to older ones, probably because the infrastructure to connect to the grid was in place. Gavin was built near Kyger Creek, Mountaineer near Sporn and Kammer near Mitchell. I'm not familiar with others. I don't know how close you could say Zimmer is to Beckjord or another plant, and the ones below Cincinati or above Wheeling will require me to do some research.

Anyway, this is a story I'm following as best I can.