LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Big changes are in store for a coal fired power plant in Lawrence County.
Officials with Kentucky Power say in a few years the plant will no longer burn coal for electricity, and that change has some county officials wondering how the county will survive.
More than two million tons of coal burn every year at the Big Sandy Power Plant.
"Coal is Kentucky. Coal is West Virginia. I mean that's just what we live off around these parts," said Lawrence County Judge Executive John Osborne.
Osborne worries his county could suffer because KY Power officials announced the plant, located just a few miles north of Louisa, will stop burning coal by 2015.
"They might not understand but we got to have coal. Got to have coal to survive in these parts of Kentucky. That's what's fed a lot of families for all these years, paid a lot of tax dollars in too," he said.
In fact he says nearly $800,000 in tax revenue comes from that plant, and about half of that goes toward the schools.
"Every part of the county, the libraries and everything, will be cut anywhere from $60,000-$100,000. That's a big lump," said Osborne.
Lawrence County officials say, no matter what, jobs at the plant will be cut significantly, putting a huge strain on the county economy.
"That's just going to put more out of work, and good paying jobs, which will trickle down to your stores and everything local. I mean it will be devastating to this part of the county," said Osborne.
Kentucky Power officials say a lot is still in question. Part of the plant may close, and part may be switched to natural gas. But they do know that coal will no longer be the main source of power.
"To comply with environmental regulations we'll eventually stop burning coal there, but it will be several years," said Ronn Robinson with Kentucky Power.
For now they say all Lawrence County can do is wait.
Kentucky Power is asking for proposals to replace the electricity source in part of the plant. They will weigh those costs with converting it to natural gas.