Kentucky utilities look to build new natgas power plant

Wed Oct 9, 2013 9:41am EDT

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Oct 9 (Reuters) - Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities plan to seek approval from Kentucky utility regulators to build a natural gas-fired power plant and a solar facility to replace retiring coal plants and meet future demand growth, the companies said in a statement.

The utilities, both units of PPL Corp of Pennsylvania, want to build the new gas plant at their Green River facility. It will generate about 700 megawatts of power using combined-cycle technology and cost about $700 million.

One megawatt powers about 1,000 homes.

The solar facility will cost about $25 million and have a capacity of about 10-MW. The utilities said they are looking at several sites for the solar facility.

The utilities intend to have the gas plant online in 2018 and the solar facility online in 2016, they said in a statement released late last week.

The gas plant will create about 40 full-time jobs once it enters service and several hundred construction jobs in western Kentucky, the companies said.

In 2011, the utilities announced they will retire 800 MW of older coal-fired generation at the Cane Run, Green River and Tyrone power plants over the next several years due in part to increased federal environmental regulations.

To replace the generation from the retiring coal plants, the companies are building a 640-MW gas plant at Cane Run, expected to enter service in mid 2015.

To replace the remaining lost coal generation, the companies in September 2012 issued a request for proposals for new generation.

The companies evaluated the bids, which included renewable energy, existing energy within Kentucky and building new generation, and decided to build a second gas plant and the solar facility.

If approved, LG&E and KU said their overall generation capacity will be 59 percent coal-fired, 40 percent natural gas-fired and 1 percent renewable.

The utilities serve 1.2 million customers in Kentucky and Virginia.

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