AEP Cardinal Plant in Brilliant Will Be Converted to Gas

BRILLIANT – American Electric Power will modify its generating unit at the Cardinal Plant near Brilliant to run on natural gas by 2030, continuing the company’s shift away from burning coal to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Furthermore, according to a deal with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, AEP will develop at least 900 megawatts of wind and solar energy projects in Ohio over the next five years – enough to power about 900,000 homes.

Officials at AEP believe the eight-year power purchase agreement reached this week will save Ohio ratepayers a total of $721 million, assuming the commission formally approves the measure early next year.

“Although the agreement alone would involve a monthly increase of 62 cents in the first year for a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatthours per month … when combined with AEP Ohio’s recently implemented Electric Security Plan, that customer would actually see a decrease, on average, of $9 per month from the same period a year ago,” a news release from the company states.

However, a group of opponents argue the agreement amounts to a $3.9 billion “corporate handout” to AEP. Moreover, they claim the move will discourage other companies from investing in Ohio because of the special deals AEP and FirstEnergy Corp. are able to obtain.

“Under this deal, AEP is guaranteed a profit paid for by hard-working consumers and businesses that are just now emerging from an economic recession,” said Todd Snitchler, former PUCO chairman. “The PUCO will be helping utilities take money out of the pockets of Ohio residents, including older adults on fixed incomes, faith-based organizations and nonprofits, and handing it over to the companies and their shareholders.”

Snitchler now represents a group known as the Alliance for Energy Choice. Among the organization’s members are energy firms such as Advanced Power, Calpine, Dynegy, Energy Professionals of Ohio, Retail Energy Supply Association and Talen Energy.

In June, American Electric Power turned off 5,535 megawatts of coal-fired power across Appalachia, ostensibly as a means to comply with the Obama administration’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. According to AEP, the company’s unit at the Cardinal Plant will stop burning coal no later than the year 2030, while some generators in Coshocton County will also end coal usage.

The firm’s press release announcing the deal calls these developments “a significant acceleration in ceasing coal operations at these units.”

“We disagree with Alliance’s assertions and feel this agreement provides a balanced transition from coal to natural gas and renewables, while maintaining grid reliability,” AEP Ohio spokeswoman Terri Flora said. “This agreement represents common ground by a diverse group of parties, including advocates representing low-income residential customers, environmental organizations, industrial and commercial customers and competitive retail suppliers, and provides numerous benefits to consumers.”

AEP only owns one of the Cardinal Plant units, as Buckeye Power owns the remaining two. Buckeye spokesman Adam Specht said the firm has no immediate plans to change its generation fuel at Cardinal.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement on a comprehensive plan that helps ensure more stable electricity prices for Ohio consumers and promotes a reliable and diverse generation supply to support the Ohio economy,” Pablo Vegas, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer, said.

AEP Ohio is an operating subsidiary of Columbus-based AEP.

Although much of the focus is on AEP’s future generation strategy, FirstEnergy Corp. is also making plans that Snitchler questions, as he states, “If FirstEnergy’s deal is a corporate bailout, AEP’s deal is a corporate handout.”

“It’s no surprise that out-of-state energy suppliers oppose our plan. They are betting on higher energy prices in Ohio down the road, so naturally they would be opposed to putting safeguards in place to help address price spikes and volatility,” FirstEnergy spokesman Doug Colafella said. “So we strongly disagree with the bailout argument. We see it as a win-win for Ohio because we can keep thousands of Ohioans employed at Ohio power facilities, while protecting customers from rising prices in the years ahead.”

AEP Cardinal Plant in Brilliant Will Be Converted to Gas

BRILLIANT – American Electric Power will modify its generating unit at the Cardinal Plant near Brilliant to run on natural gas by 2030, continuing the company’s shift away from burning coal to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Furthermore, according to a deal with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, AEP will develop at least 900 megawatts of wind and solar energy projects in Ohio over the next five years – enough to power about 900,000 homes.

Officials at AEP believe the eight-year power purchase agreement reached this week will save Ohio ratepayers a total of $721 million, assuming the commission formally approves the measure early next year.

“Although the agreement alone would involve a monthly increase of 62 cents in the first year for a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatthours per month … when combined with AEP Ohio’s recently implemented Electric Security Plan, that customer would actually see a decrease, on average, of $9 per month from the same period a year ago,” a news release from the company states.

However, a group of opponents argue the agreement amounts to a $3.9 billion “corporate handout” to AEP. Moreover, they claim the move will discourage other companies from investing in Ohio because of the special deals AEP and FirstEnergy Corp. are able to obtain.

“Under this deal, AEP is guaranteed a profit paid for by hard-working consumers and businesses that are just now emerging from an economic recession,” said Todd Snitchler, former PUCO chairman. “The PUCO will be helping utilities take money out of the pockets of Ohio residents, including older adults on fixed incomes, faith-based organizations and nonprofits, and handing it over to the companies and their shareholders.”

Snitchler now represents a group known as the Alliance for Energy Choice. Among the organization’s members are energy firms such as Advanced Power, Calpine, Dynegy, Energy Professionals of Ohio, Retail Energy Supply Association and Talen Energy.

In June, American Electric Power turned off 5,535 megawatts of coal-fired power across Appalachia, ostensibly as a means to comply with the Obama administration’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. According to AEP, the company’s unit at the Cardinal Plant will stop burning coal no later than the year 2030, while some generators in Coshocton County will also end coal usage.

The firm’s press release announcing the deal calls these developments “a significant acceleration in ceasing coal operations at these units.”

“We disagree with Alliance’s assertions and feel this agreement provides a balanced transition from coal to natural gas and renewables, while maintaining grid reliability,” AEP Ohio spokeswoman Terri Flora said. “This agreement represents common ground by a diverse group of parties, including advocates representing low-income residential customers, environmental organizations, industrial and commercial customers and competitive retail suppliers, and provides numerous benefits to consumers.”

AEP only owns one of the Cardinal Plant units, as Buckeye Power owns the remaining two. Buckeye spokesman Adam Specht said the firm has no immediate plans to change its generation fuel at Cardinal.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement on a comprehensive plan that helps ensure more stable electricity prices for Ohio consumers and promotes a reliable and diverse generation supply to support the Ohio economy,” Pablo Vegas, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer, said.

AEP Ohio is an operating subsidiary of Columbus-based AEP.

Although much of the focus is on AEP’s future generation strategy, FirstEnergy Corp. is also making plans that Snitchler questions, as he states, “If FirstEnergy’s deal is a corporate bailout, AEP’s deal is a corporate handout.”

“It’s no surprise that out-of-state energy suppliers oppose our plan. They are betting on higher energy prices in Ohio down the road, so naturally they would be opposed to putting safeguards in place to help address price spikes and volatility,” FirstEnergy spokesman Doug Colafella said. “So we strongly disagree with the bailout argument. We see it as a win-win for Ohio because we can keep thousands of Ohioans employed at Ohio power facilities, while protecting customers from rising prices in the years ahead.”