AEP unit to reduce Texas Welsh 2 coal-fired unit to 60 percent

HOUSTON Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:22pm EST

HOUSTON Dec 21 (Reuters) - American Electric Power Co's SWEPCO utility will reduce output at a one unit at the Welsh coal-fired power plant in Texas now that the 600-megawatt John W. Turk Jr. coal plant in Arkansas has begun commercial operation, a spokesman said on Friday.

An agreement to operate the 528-megawatt Welsh 2 unit at a reduced rate until it is retired was part of a broad legal settlement between SWEPCO and the Sierra Club, an environmental group opposed to coal plants, to end numerous legal challenges to the Turk plant.

SWEPCO agreed to limit output at the Welsh 2 unit to 60 percent to offset emissions from Turk.

Welsh 2 will be retired by the end of 2016 to comply with stricter federal emission standards that go into effect in 2016 and to complete transmission upgrades needed before the unit shuts, said SWEPCO spokesman Brian Bond.

Overall, AEP's utilities plan to retire about 4,600 MW of coal-fired generation and install or upgrade emission equipment on more than 13,000 MW of coal generation.

SWEPCO has already complied with another settlement provision to add 400 MW of renewable generation, according to the company.