AEP to close coal-fired Muskingum unit in 2015 - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

AEP to close coal-fired Muskingum unit in 2015

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American Electric Power will retire the fifth of five units at its Muskingum River Plant at Beverly, Ohio, in 2015, the company announced July 11.

Unit 5 generates about 585 megawatts and is the largest and newest unit at Muskingum River, which is in Washington County, Ohio, and near Parkersburg.

In a news release, AEP said it reached an agreement with other parties in February to modify the company's 2007 New Source Review Consent Decree and give AEP the option to retire Muskingum River Unit 5 or refuel it with natural gas. Due to the cost of compliance with environmental regulations and current market conditions, AEP has determined that it is unlikely to make the capital investment to refuel the unit, the news release said.

The company previously announced its intent to retire Muskingum River Units 1-4 (840 MW) in 2015. About 95 employees working at Muskingum River Plant Units 1-5 will be impacted. AEP said it will work to provide displaced employees with opportunities to apply for jobs at other AEP facilities. Employees whose positions are eliminated and who do not find another position with the company will be considered for severance benefits.

AEP previously announced the planned retirement of 2,538 MW of coal-fueled generation owned by AEP Ohio in Ohio and West Virginia by the end of 2015. The addition of Muskingum River Unit 5 brings AEP Ohio's total retirements to 3,123 MW. The remaining 10,725 MW of AEP Ohio-owned generation — including 2,427 MW slated to be transferred to Appalachian Power and Kentucky Power following state regulatory approvals — will consist mostly of low-emitting, fully controlled coal-fueled plants, natural gas-fueled combined cycle and combustion turbines, and a small hydro plant.

AEP will record a non-operating, pre-tax impairment charge for Muskingum River Unit 5 of approximately $150 million to $170 million in the second quarter of 2013. This does not impact AEP's 2013 operating earnings guidance range of $3.05 to $3.25 per share, and the company continues to expect to deliver an earnings growth rate of 4 to 6 percent based upon 2013 operating earnings guidance.