HAZARD, Ky (WY MT) - Recent news that the Big Sandy Power Plant will shut down at least one reactor and stop burning coal in the other by 2015 has many people worried.
Monday, Kentucky Power officials were in Hazard talking to community leaders about what their plan is to power eastern Kentucky while keeping rates low for customers.
"I believe in coal. We are the largest burner in coal in terms of our company; Kentucky Power is 100 percent coal. But in the end the cost associated with burning coal at that facility was not in the best interest for our customers," said President and C.O.O. Greg Pauley.
The Big Sandy Power Plant has two reactors. Unit 1 and Unit 2 will have to be shut down, retired, or re-modified in 2015.
As for Unit 1, Kentucky Power officials say they are evaluating requests for proposals which include the possibility of converting it to a natural gas reactor.
Unit 2 will be shut down. Part of the plan also includes transferring 50 percent of the assets of the Mitchell Plant in West Virginia which officials say is a coal burning plant.
"When other alternatives or options became available to me it was prudent, at least I thought so, to step back and re-evaluate those options because I am looking at the well being of the economy in eastern Kentucky as well as our customers who in the end pay for that electricity," said Pauley.
Paley says they are in this position because of federal and EPA regulations. He says to retro fit the big sandy plant so that it burns coal up to EPA standards would mean a 30 percent increase for customers.
Pauley says there is no avoiding a rate increase for customers, but he says it will not be anywhere close to 30 percent.
"I hope our customers understand we are trying to do what's best for them," said Pauley.
Pauley says the increases will have to be approved by the Public Service Commission and will probably go into effect in January of 2014.
There will be public meetings held this week by the Public Service Commission about the issue.
The first one is Tuesday in Louisa at 5:00 at the Lawrence County Community Center.
There will also be meetings on Wednesday at 5:00 at Southeast Community and Technical College's Whitesburg Campus and in Hazard at the University Center of the Mountains.