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Kentucky Power remembers Big Sandy Power Plant as transition to natural gas begins

Big Sandy Unit 2 is among units at nine American Electric Power coal-fired power plants to stop producing electricity this year to comply with new environmental regulations. Unit 1 will be converted to run on natural gas.

(Story by Allison Barker)

LOUISA, Ky. – May 13, 2015, is a day Johnny Adkins won’t soon forget. It was his last shift as an operator on Unit 2 at the Big Sandy Power Plant.

“I was playing ‘The Dance’ by Garth Brooks because it was me and ol’ girl making our last dance,” Adkins said. “An hour and a half after I left her that day, she was tired of dancing and hasn’t danced since. We tried to hold on until the end of May so we could run the coal out of the bunkers but she couldn’t hold on. She was done.”

Big Sandy Unit 2 is among units at nine American Electric Power coal-fired power plants to stop producing electricity this year to comply with new environmental regulations. Most officially retired May 31. Together, the coal units in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia generated 5,588 megawatts (MW). While many of those plants will close completely, Big Sandy will remain open, and Unit 1 will be converted to run on natural gas.

Honoring the closure of Big Sandy Unit 2 and hailing the conversion of Unit 1 was the reason for a celebration at the Eastern Kentucky plant in June.

“I have mixed emotions,” said a teary-eyed Kutrina May, who has worked in the plant’s storeroom for 33 years. “It’s sad to see all of this stop. We can continue on with the gas but it’s just not going to be the same. All these people are leaving. I don’t do well with goodbyes. It’s mixed emotions because I loved working here. I’ll get to stay so that’s a good thing but it will be different.”

Leonard Compton spent 33 years at Big Sandy before retiring in 1995 as a senior control technician, and was happy to be back for the celebration.

“It’s heartbreaking to know that Unit 2 is closing,” said Compton, 82. “I had a good life working here, a blessed life.”

Big Sandy has a long history of serving the needs of Eastern Kentucky. When Big Sandy’s 260-MW Unit 1 went online in 1963, its cooling tower was the first natural-draft cooling tower in the Western Hemisphere. Once it is converted to burn natural gas, Unit 1 will have a generation capacity of approximately 268 MW.

Unit 2, which went online in 1969, was the first in a series of five 800-MW units installed on the AEP System in a four-year period. Over the years, Big Sandy has not only produced low-cost electricity for the region, it also has contributed greatly to the local payroll. In 2013, both units together accounted for $9.2 million in annual payroll and $1.4 million in payroll taxes, plus millions more in property taxes.

Greg Pauley, Kentucky Power president and chief operating officer, recalled the Kentucky Public Service Commission questioned the need for an 800-MW unit.

“They challenged us as to why we needed a unit that could generate that much power,” Pauley said. “Well, we’ve shown why, and our employees have done a fantastic job over the years. Big Sandy was a significant accomplishment for Kentucky Power and AEP.”

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Jeff LaFleur, vice president of generating assets APCO/KY, said that Big Sandy employees have always been driven by high performance.

“Big Sandy, and especially Big Sandy Unit 2, has always been one the highest performing 800-MW units AEP had,” LaFleur said. “It’s a shame. It’s the best 800 unit we got and we had to shut it down. But the positive from all this is I think we will get improvement in the whole fleet. Some of these folks are moving on to other plants. I’m happy to have them and the other plants are happy to get them. It’s a huge advantage given our aging demographics. It’s allowed us to get a little bit ahead of the demographics. They’re trained people.”

Dan Lee, senior vice president, Fossil and Hydro Generation, echoed LaFleur’s comments.

“It’s a huge opportunity for the plants that are getting them. And they will add to the culture in those plants,” Lee said.

Pat Conley, 54, is one employee who is making the transition to the John E. Amos Power Plant in West Virginia, about an hour away from his home in eastern Kentucky.

“I hate to see Unit 2 shut down but that’s just the way the ball bounces,” said Conley, a coal yard operator with 27 years at Big Sandy. “I’m pretty excited about going to Amos. The rumor is they actually have days off up there and you can have them off. The last several years here we pretty much have worked seven days a week. That gets old. Heck, if I love it up there, I may work past 62 if my health holds out.”

Through the years, Big Sandy employees like Conley have taken great pride in providing much-needed electricity to the region, while protecting air and water quality, recycling materials and maintaining an exemplary record of public and work safety. The plant and its employees have been a part of the Louisa and Eastern Kentucky community for more than 50 years, and will continue to be active supporters well into the future, said Big Sandy Plant Manager Aaron Sink.

“This day was about saying thank you and honoring the employees who served this company from 1969 to 2015,” Sink said. “If you let it, it’s a sad occasion. You have to acknowledge that. But to turn it into a positive, we must cherish the memories and what Big Sandy has meant to the area over the years.

“We have provided low-cost electricity to the region. We have contributed to the local economy and we have provided employees who were not just employees, but members of the community and stewards of our company, our mission and what we stood for.”

Sink presented employees with a commemorative case knife or afghan emblazoned with the words “Big Sandy Unit 2 1969 to 2015,” as a keepsake. He challenged them to remember Big Sandy’s core values as they move on to other endeavors — safety, environmental, housekeeping and production.

“Carry on the traditions and values learned here,” he said.

While some Big Sandy employees are moving on to other job opportunities within the AEP family, others have taken jobs elsewhere or opted to retire. New retirees Greg Delong, 57, Tom Pettrey, 56, and Gary Setser, 59, see the closure of Unit 2 as a chance for adventure.

The trio, all avid outdoorsmen, is making plans to take up to six months to hike the Appalachian Trail come spring 2016, a 2,185-mile trek.

“We all like to hike and talked amongst ourselves and the three of us decided that’s what we wanted to do,” Delong said. “We got to talking and we’re leaving in April. We’ll start south in Georgia and hike north to Maine.”

The way Pettrey sees it, if you’re going to retire, you might as well do it right.

“We wanted to do something, one more good challenge,” he said. “We’ve all talked about it for years, but who has the time? Now we do.”

Clinch River Plant receives new life as a natural gas plant

Clinch River Plant, Carbo, Virginia.

(Story by Rachel Hammer and John Shepelwich)

On May 31, Clinch River Plant’s story took a dramatic turn.

It ceased being a three-unit, 705 megawatt (MW) coal-fired plant. It soon will become a two-unit, 484 MW gas-fired plant.

Participants in the May 1956 groundbreaking for Clinch River Plant included G.L. Furr and Philip Sporn, American Gas & Electric/ Appalachian Power; J.P. Routh, Clinchfield Coal; former Virginia Governor John S. Battle; Judge Lester M. Hooker, Virginia State Corporation Commission, Congressman Pat Jennings, 9th Congressional District; and R. H. Smith, Norfolk & Western Railway.

Unit 3, 235 MW with a 1961 in-service date, has retired. The unit had been placed on extended startup status in 2010. Units 1 and 2, also 235 MW each, are being converted to burn natural gas and will begin operation as gas-fired units next year.

Clinch River Plant is located at Carbo, Russell County, Virginia, along the Clinch River. The plant’s first two units were built concurrently with four other plants: Kammer, Sporn, Muskingum River and Breed.

Amid great fanfare

Clinch River Plant’s groundbreaking on May 16, 1956, was both a major event and eventful. More than 2,000 people attended. Their cars and pick-up trucks clogged the only country road and bridge leading to the site. When invited dignitaries, who had lunch together at the local high school, arrived via buses, the vehicles could not negotiate the narrow road.

The bus carrying Philip Sporn, American Gas & Electric president, went off the road and into the ditch. Furious, Sporn jumped from the bus and ran the remaining distance to the event.

The plant was dedicated on Nov. 18, 1958.

The plant was dedicated Nov. 18, 1958. Festivities began with a dinner at Norfolk & Western’s Hotel Roanoke, followed by a special overnight Pullman train ride to the plant site. Some 700 guests attended tours of the plant, N&W’s railroad layout and Clinchfield Coal’s nearby mining and coal preparation facilities.

Efficiency

Clinch River Plant made power generation history in 1960 when it became the first power station to run for a full calendar year with a heat rate below 9,000 Btu/kwh. Heat rate is a measure of efficiency, with a lower heat rate indicating higher efficiency.

Clinch River has been AEP’s most efficient plant 13 different years in its history. Even at age 30, the plant in 1993 was the most efficient plant on the AEP System with a heat rate of 9,293 Btu/kwh.

Leading the way toward Target Zero

Clinch River Plant was a leader in demonstrating that Target Zero is achievable. It was the first plant on the AEP System to work a full year – Aug. 27, 1996, to Aug. 26, 1997, without an OSHA recordable incident. During 1996, the plant operated with an OSHA recordable rate of 1.69.

That same year the plant received the Chairman’s Award, recognizing plant employees for working five years with no disabling injuries (March 1991-96).

In 2006, Clinch River Plant employees, including Michael Witt, third from left and now retired, familiarized local emergency responders with plant operations.

Clinch River Plant employees earned AEP’s prestigious Horizon Award for safety in 1996. Introduced in 1994, AEP presented the Horizon Award each year to the AEP organizational team that best exemplified leadership excellence in reducing employee and public incidents and in improving safety and health overall.

Enhancements and improvements

Clinch River Plant was the first major plant on the AEP System to use cooling towers to help cool steam used in the plant’s processes. It had five mechanical-draft towers. The Unit 3 cooling tower was rebuilt around 1999 following failure of a similar tower at Conesville Plant. At the same time, the tower was converted from a cross-flow to a counter-flow design. The counter-flow design offers better thermal efficiency and would reduce future maintenance costs.

Clinch River Plant was the first major AEP plant to use cooling towers to cool steam. Photo by John Shepelwich.

A number of projects planned to make the plant “ready for the future” concluded in 2009. These included installation of mercury monitoring equipment and selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) technology to address nitrogen oxide emissions, development of anew coal storage and blending facility, and the beginning of construction of a new landfill for ash storage.

Other plant retrofits included:

  • Electrostatic precipitators to remove fly ash installed in 1975 at a cost of about $25 million;
  •  A sulfur trioxide injection system to enhance precipitator efficiency in 1985 for $1 million; and
  • Continuous emission monitoring systems in 1994 at a cost of $3.1 million.

Clinch River Plant also was an AEP leader in its dealing with the intake and outflow of water from the Clinch River, home to a vareity of aquatic life including endangered mussels. In 1992, the plant introduced an advanced wastewater treatment facility designed to remove metals before they are reintroduced into the river. The plant also was the first AEP facility to add a reverse osmosis unit in 1992 that captures contaminants from water past the intake but before it is introduced into a boiler.

Environmental compliance and recognition

Even though the current changes at the plant are related to environmental compliance, Clinch River has earned recognition for its environmental programs.

In 2011, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s National Partnership for Environmental Priorities program recognized Clinch River for successful reduction of materials containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The plant achieved this distinction by removing transformer/rectifier (T/R) sets. In the plant’s electrostatic precipitators, T/R sets provide the charge required to remove particulates from a unit’s exhaust stream.

Clinch River Plant in the spotlight

Over the years, Clinch River Plant had its moments in the spotlight.

Local law enforcement officials responded when environmental groups blocked access to the plant in 2006.

In July 2006, Clinch River Plant [made headlines ]when members of two environmental groups stopped a coal truck and blocked access to the plant.

Somewhat unfazed by the activity outside the plant gate, the plant remained secured and employees continued normal operation throughout the incident.

In 2011, Clinch River Plant had its [voice heard in Washington]. Plant manager Rick Chafin and Energy Production Superintendent Edwin Shelton had been holding local discussions about proposed environmental regulations and their impact on the plant, its employees and the surrounding community. They caught the attention of U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and traveled to Washington to tell their story to Warner’s staff, also meeting with staff of another senator and a congressman.

Staff members expressed interest in AEP’s approach for harmonizing the regulations and timelines.

Clinch River even had a few minutes of fame in Japan. Late last year, Japanese television network [FUJI visited Clinch River Plant] for a piece on converting from coal to natural gas.

The Clinch River team

Their dedication has characterized the employees who have operated and maintained Clinch River Plant over the years.

Work was done on the rotors in late 2014. Photo by John Shepelwich.

For example, during a routine “over-speed” test on the Unit 1 turbine in 2008, employees heard something that didn’t sound quite right. There was unusual vibration, but not enough to shut down the unit.

Employees decided to take a look. A partial opening of the unit revealed that the turbine had thrown two blades. They considered the options and, with the unit due for a full inspection in just three years, decided to remove the upper half turbine shell to inspect the rotor.

A complete inspection conducted by AEP‘s Central Machine Shop revealed that 40 of 170 stage seven blades in the turbine were cracked. The inspection and blade replacements saved the unit from a potentially damaging and costly repair had it thrown those blades.

Additionally, employee dedication and longevity has always been a Clinch River Plant hallmark.

For example, Chafin is only the ninth person to hold that position over the plant’s 57-year history. At the plant’s [50th anniversary celebration ]event, it was noted that, with current employment of 118, remarkably, only 260 individuals had ever worked at the plant.

The plant’s coal-handling equipment has been retired as part of the conversion to burn natural gas. Photo by John Shepelwich.

A look ahead

AEP announced in 2011 that to meet environmental requirements, two Clinch River units would be [converted to burn natural gas], while the third unit would be retired.

This was identified as the least-cost alternative to meeting customers’ power needs and supporting the local economy while reducing the plant’s emissions.

Activities are under way at units 1 and 2 to install equipment and systems to deliver, handle and burn natural gas. Existing burners were modified. Coal handling and ash-handling equipment, including the coal yard, coal silos, conveyors, coal transport systems and pulverizers, were retired.

Unit 1 will begin natural gas-fired operation in early 2016. Unit 2 will begin operation as a gas-fired unit mid-year.

“The fact that the equipment in a 57 year old plant is in good enough shape to switch fuels from coal to natural gas is a testament to dedicated employees who have taken great pride in maintaining and operating the plant,” concluded Chafin. “Along the way, the employees have been innovators, always looking for ways to do things better, and have always been safety-oriented. It is the ‘family’ of employees working at Clinch River through the years that has made it a great place to work.”

For Clinch River Plant and its employees, it will be a different life. But the plant will have continued life.

Be a man of action — take care of your health

Men can take action by taking control of their health.

Men don’t always like to talk about their health issues. Finding someone who has your back is one way men can take action to commit to being healthier.

Friends, family and mentors, as well as health care professionals, can help men meet their health goals. To quote Congressman Bill Richardson: “Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue.”

Eating right, staying active, getting enough sleep and exercise, and getting regular checkups and preventive exams also are part of the action plan for men.

Men who are get-it-done types will want to make a list of the things that are bothering them, and questions to ask before their healthcare appointments. Bring a friend or family member along to make sure everything is addressed, or just to offer support. And be sure to ask your doctor plenty of questions.

During Men’s Health Week, June 15-21 (the week before Father’s Day), men are encouraged to take charge by being aware of their health issues — those that can affect anyone as well as those that affect only men, such as testicular cancer, and those that men are more susceptible to, such as colorectal cancer and back pain.

 

Sporn Plant ranked among world leaders in steam-electric generating efficiency

AEP’s Philip Sporn Plant began operation in the post-World War II years, during a time of increasing demand for electricity.

NEW HAVEN, W.Va. — For 65 years, AEP’s Philip Sporn Plant provided low-cost energy for thousands of homes, businesses, schools and industries.

Sporn was one of three coal-fired power plants Appalachian Power Company shut down in West Virginia May 31 due to environmental regulations. Appalachian Power’s Kanawha River Power Station at Glasgow, W.Va., and the Kammer Power Station near Moundsville, W.Va., were the other two.

Sporn Plant began operation in the post-World War II years, during a time of increasing demand for electricity. Located along the Ohio River near New Haven, the coal-fired plant was named after the president of AEP from 1947-61. He was instrumental in AEP becoming a major electric utility enterprise.

Philip Sporn was president of AEP from 1947-61.

Sporn Plant was comprised of five units. Unit 1 began operation in 1949 with commercial operation in 1950. Unit 2 also began operation in 1950. The third unit began service in 1951 and the fourth unit came on line one year later. Unit 5 began operating in 1960. Each of the first four units generated 150,000 kilowatts of electricity, while Unit 5 generated 450,000 kilowatts.

From the AEP history book And There was Light, “When the Sporn Plant was dedicated on a sunny July 27, 1950, some 600 invited guests overflowed the big tent put up for the occasion, and another 4,000 people from a radius of more than 200 miles toured the plant during a public open house the follow­ing two days. At the dedication, West Virginia Governor Okey L. Patteson paid tribute to the man for whom the plant had been named:

‘The enormity of this modern electric power plant is beyond the comprehension of any of us. It takes men of Philip Sporn’s ability and vision, not only to dream of such an undertaking but to make it a reality.’

“In his response, Presi­dent Sporn made a strong case for private enterprise:

‘Private enterprise and initiative developed our physical fron­tiers and made possible the growth and development of this country to its present status. Private enterprise, initiative, daring and resourcefulness have, as we have seen here, been opening up our new technological frontiers. Enterprise built this country and made it strong. Only enterprise can assure our being able to continue strong and secure.'”

In 2010, Debra Osborne was named plant manager for Appalachian Power Company’s Philip Sporn Plant.

Since beginning operation, the Sporn units consistently ranked among the world leaders in steam-electric generating efficiency. In 1950, Sporn was the first power plant in the world to have a heat rate below 10,000 Btus per kWh of generation. When it was built, Unit 5 was among the largest generating units in operation. It also was one of the first generating units to utilize the efficiencies of high steam pressures.

Sporn Plant featured in Electrical World

The entire leader section of the June 5, 1950, issue of Electrical World magazine was devoted to an illustrated series of articles on the features of Philip Sporn plant. Reprints of the collection were made for AEP’s operating companies and distributed at the dedication of the plant.

Sporn Unit 5 was one of the first supercritical-design generating units AEP installed. When installed, it was 73 percent larger than any generating unit then in operation.

The company originally slated Unit 5 for closure in December 2013 as part of the New Source Review settlement. But after an assessment of the unit’s condition, AEP moved Sporn 5 to a forced outage condition on September 6, 2011, meaning it was no longer offered into the PJM market for capacity and/or energy. AEP Feb. 13, 2012, officially retired Sporn Plant Unit 5.

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“The employees at Sporn understood the role of the plant once the decision was made to shut down the plant in June 2015,” said Debra Osborne, plant manager. “They focused attention on safety, environmental and compliance items and minimized any unnecessary spending.”

Hundreds of employees have contributed to Sporn’s great history. Retiree Mark Ward was one of the plant’s first employees. “When I started, the plant was still under construction,” Ward said. “It did not look like it does today. Unit 1 had not even been fully insulated when I began working at Sporn.” Ward worked at Sporn Plant until he retired in 1976. He helped bring all five units online.

Earl Keefer, who retired as a chemist, was also at Sporn during its first days of operation. When Keefer started with the plant, he made $1.17 an hour. Keefer said some of his most memorable moments involved Sporn himself. “Philip Sporn would visit the plant and shake hands with each of the employees,” Keefer said. “It was great to be able to see and talk with him.”

Keefer also recalled the anticipation that Thanksgiving day in 1949 when an employee named Keith Arnold threw the switch to put Unit 1 on line. “The plant was a good place to work,” Keefer said of his 34 years there. “I really enjoyed working with my fellow employees.”

Throughout Sporn Plant’s long tenure, one thing remained constant: skilled employees helped produce electric power for the AEP System. They did it efficiently and safely, while also taking time to serve the community in which they worked.

Decades of community service

Employees at Sporn also were always quick to lend a helping hand in the community, no matter how big or small the event.

For example, in 2006, plant employees made a donation of 20 crates of bedding items to local organizations. The Tri-County Boy Scouts of America, the local American Red Cross, and a camp located in Point Pleasant, W.Va., were recipients of the pillows, blankets, mattresses and sheets.

(From left) Guyla Walburn, Sam Hawley, Jill LaValley, Marlene Johnson and Stacie Stewart sold refreshments and snacks at Sporn to help raise funds for charitable organizations. Photo by Trena Riffle.

That same summer, the “Almost Heaven” custom motorcycle, built by West Virginia boilermaker and motorcycle craftsman Robbie “Bear” Parsons, was on display June 22 in the Sporn Plant shop area. The bike toured West Virginia and raffle tickets were sold, with all proceeds benefiting the Shriners Children´s Hospitals.

The next year, employees loaded backpacks with school supplies and delivered them to local school children in need.

Whether they were raising funds for the American Cancer Society in the Relay For Life event or supporting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society by participating in the Light the Night Walk, Sporn employees always turned out to help those in need.

“Employees at AEP are great about helping others in need,” said Dan Edwards, retired plant system owner senior. “When we organize actitivies, the employees are always there with their support. It makes the work and the efforts very worthwhile.”

“The unit reliability continued to surpass what was expected of a dispositioned plant,” concluded Osborne. “There was a lot of flexibility shown by employees when schedules or assignments were changed to meet needs for the maintenance or operation of the units.

“The fact that three of the units operated when called upon the very last week is a tribute to all 65 years of Sporn employees and their hard work and dedication.”

(Thanks to Walt Raub for supplying historical information for this story.)

Obituaries

AEP River Operations

Jeffrey Cutlip, 56, River Transportation Division, died May 2.

AEP Service Corporation

Candace Bywaters, 67, HPL Metro Building, died May 29.

Donald Joslyn, 69, retired, AEP Headquarters, died March 30.

Albert Kuhens, 81, retired, Central Operations Center, died May 29.

Michael Lohrman, 61, AEP Headquarters, died May 5.

Mark Matthews, 60, AEP Headquarters, died May 18.

John Rodrian, 91, retired, AEP Headquarters, died May 5.

Norman Vodrey, 77, retired, AEP Headquarters, died March 24.

Appalachian Power Company

James Ball, 91, retired, Sporn Plant, died May 28.

Jack Bishop, 78, retired, Amos Plant, died May 26.

Betty Carter, 76, retired, Roanoke Main Office, died April 17.

Jackie Coleman, 55, North Charleston Transmission Service Center, died March 31.

Kenneth Cooper, 67, Mountaineer Plant, died April 11.

Mary Fizer, 59, Amos Plant, died April 26.

Harvey Gillespie Jr., 88, retired, Glen Lyn Plant, died April 15.

Ivy Layman Jr., 80, retired, Roanoke Main Office, died May 24.

Lloyd Linkous, 95, retired, Bluefield Office, died May 3.

Ira Peters Jr., 94, retired, Roanoke Main Office, died March 25.

John Randall Jr., 89, retired, Kingsport Office, died May 7.

Virginia Smythers, 92, retired, Pulaski Office, died April 30.

E.L. Whitley, 104, retired, Bluefield Office, died May 1.

Samuel Williams Jr., 88, retired, Beckley Service Center, died April 22.

William Winebrenner, 96, retired, Sporn Plant, died April 7.

Columbus Southern Power Company

Clement Bateman, 86, retired, Athens Service Center, died May 8.

Thomas Bozman, 87, retired, Picway Plant, died May 23.

Hillard Cantley, 86, retired, 850 Tech Center, died March 22.

Clay Cunningham, 50, Conesville Plant, died May 6.

Jeff Gore, 60, Conesville Plant, died May 9.

Janet Hickman, 82, retired, 850 Tech Center, died April 12.

William Kerr, 85, retired, Athens Service Center, died April 9.

Lewis Laird, 82, retired, 850 Tech Center, died May 17.

Turney Williamson Jr., 92, retired, 850 Tech Center, died May 6.

Indiana Michigan Power Company

Thomas Banter, 75, retired, Muncie Service Center, died April 30.

Thomas Harney, 70, retired, Muncie Service Center, died April 22.

Dale Masel, 98, Spy Run Service Center, died April 9.

Gary Pfafman, 62, Spy Run Service Center, died April 6.

Jackie Quaintance, 79, retired, One Summit Square, died April 5.

Homer Sovine, 83, retired, South Bend Service Center, died May 10.

Floyd Wambaugh, 91, retired, St. Joseph Service Center, died May 19.

Kentucky Power

Jerry Stewart, 84, retired, Big Sandy Plant, died May 16.

Ohio Power Company

Edward Allman, 88, retired, Portsmouth Service Center, died April 10.

John Buckley, 83, retired, Portsmouth Service Center, died May 20.

Patricia Denkhaus, 81, Canton Computer Center, died May 30.

Carl Evans, 85, retired, Van Wert Service Center, died May 6.

James Fleming, 75, retired, Cardinal Plant, died April 5.

Richard George, 85, retired, Lancaster Office Building, died April 4.

William Harman, 78, retired, Muskingum River Plant, died April 14.

Richard Huther, 82, retired, Canton Eastern Regional Office, died April 26.

John Kennard, 80, retired, Portsmouth Service Center, died March 27.

Lawrence Knezovich, 67, Cardinal Plant, died April 10.

Larry Koontz, 71, Mitchell Plant, died May 9.

Richard Linn, 88, died, Canton Eastern Regional Office, died May 5.

Charles McCauley, 84, retired, Zanesville Office, died March 30.

James Reed, 87, retired, Canton Eastern Regional Office, died April 18.

Donald Ritzhaupt, 67, retired, Bucyrus Service Center, died April 20.

Louis Stringer, 72, retired, Canton General Service Center, died April 23.

Devere White, 90, retired, Gavin Plant, died April 9.

Ivan Wood, 82, retired, Portsmouth Service Center, died May 4.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Jim Gulley, 82, retired, Tulsa General Office, died April 19.

Ellen Millard, 71, retired, Tulsa General Office, died May 14.

Harvey Money, 84, retired, Tulsa General Office, died May 3.

John Proctor, 88, retired, Tulsa General Office, died March 28.

William Ryan Jr., 86, retired, Tulsa General Office, died May 12.

Walter Stoy, 91, retired, Tulsa General Office, died April 18.

Southwestern Electric Power Company

Norman Boles, 75, retired, Rogers Service Center, died March 27.

D.J. Huffman, 85, retired, Shreveport General Office, died May 13.

Texas Central

Carroll Bolting, 72, Victoria Service Center, died April 30.

Kenneth Rabalais, 64, Alice Service Center, died April 27.

John Willoughby, 70, retired, Corpus Christi Office, died May 14.

Texas North

C.W. Dixon, 86, retired, Abilene General Office, died April 10.

Ernest Hooks, 76, retired, Abilene General Office, died April 12.

Margaret Sedberry, 85, retired, Abilene General Office, died March 31.

Retirements

AEP River Operations

David Augustine Sr., Elmwood Convent Fleet & Repair, retired May 30 after 21 years of service.

Wilfred Banks, Elmwood Convent Fleet & Repair, retired May 1 after 15 years of service.

Kendall Buchan Jr., AEP River Operations-Convent, retired April 1 after 29 years of service.

Robert Cummins Jr., AEP River Operations-Convent, retired April 11 after 20 years of service.

Russell Rodrigue, Elmwood Drydock & Repair, retired May 28 after 19 years of service.

Terri Smiley, River Transportation Division, retired April 9 after 23 years of service.

Malcolm Veal, Elmwood Convent Fleet & Repair, retired May 30 after 12 years of service.

AEP Service Corporation

Larry Brewer, Austin Government Office, retired May 16 after 14 years of service.

Donald Gindlesperger, AEP Headquarters, retired April 18 after 30 years of service.

Donald Harkless, Mitchell Plant, retired May 1 after 33 years of service.

Eugene Horton Jr., AEP Headquarters, retired April 1 after 23 years of service.

Cindy Jiminez, Canton Computer Center, retired April 11 after 26 years of service.

Doris Jean Parsons, Hurricane Call Center, retired May 30 after 16 years of service.

Kelly Kopyar, Cardinal Plant, retired May 30 after 37 years of service.

Stephen Molick, AEP Headquarters, retired Jan. 1 after 37 years of service.

Jeffery Reece, Mishawaka Hydro, retired April 1 after 36 years of service.

Joseph Schelette, Shreveport Office, retired May 16 after 37 years of service.

Joanne Seitz, AEP Headquarters, retired May 9 after 36 years of service.

Larry Shambaugh Sr., AEP Headquarters, retired May 20 after 31 years of service.

Stanley Southall, Mitchell Plant, retired May 23 after 27 years of service.

Jana Soward, AEP Headquarters, retired May 2 after 28 years of service.

Bryan Stricklin, Mitchell Plant, retired May 30 after 32 years of service.

Michael Thomas, Gavin Plant, retired April 1 after 36 years of service.

Ronald Yusko, AEP Headquarters, retired May 2 after 32 years of service.

AEP Texas

Armando Cantu, Pharr North Service Center, retired May 2 after 35 years of service.

Graham Dodson, Austin Government Office, retired May 30 after 39 years of service.

Mike Finch, Harlingen Service Center, retired May 1 after 41 years of service.

Emilio Garza III, Laredo Service Center, retired April 1 after 43 years of service.

Brenda Hamby, Corpus Christi Office, retired April 11 after 29 years of service.

Stanley Konarik Jr., Lipan Service Center, retired May 7 after 41 years of service.

Patricia Majek, Electric System Operations, retired April 1 after 33 years of service.

Wayne McNab, Lipan Service Center, retired May 1 after 22 years of service.

Guadalupe Rojas, Corpus Christi Office, retired April 11 after 11 years of service.

Cynthia Snyder, Western Division Office-Laredo, retired April 1 after 44 years of service.

Appalachian Power Company

Gary Bazzie, Bluefield (W.Va.) Service Center, retired April 1 after 35 years of service.

David Campbell, Roanoke Main Office, retired April 1 after 35 years of service.

Carolyn Gordon, Roanoke Service Center, retired April 1 after 42 years of service.

Roy Tatum, Roanoke Service Building, retired May 29 after 35 years of service.

Donald Walter, Beckley Service Center, retired May 9 after 35 years of service.

Columbus Southern Power Company

Michael Gandee, Minerva Annex, retired May 29 after 35 years of service.

Bart King, Columbus Underground Line, retired April 8 after 35 years of service.

Indiana Michigan Power Company

Barbara Berry, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired May 1 after 15 years of service.

Sandra Greene, Baer Field Service Center, retired April 1 after 26 years of service.

David Hadley, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired April 24 after 15 years of service.

Fritz Heimbigner, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired April 16 after 30 years of service.

Gregory Keller, South Bend Service Center, retired April 1 after 29 years of service.

Barry Murrell, Rockport Plant, retired May 1 after 31 years of service.

Ronald Petro, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired April 7 after 33 years of service.

Tara Poluhanycz, Cook Material Center, retired May 1 after 23 years of service.

William Plawinski, South Bend Service Center, retired May 30 after 36 years of service.

Mark Russell, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired May 2 after 33 years of service.

Mark Siewert, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired April 24 after 30 years of service.

David Steinbrook, Cook Nuclear Plant, retired May 15 after 29 years of service.

David Stough Sr., Mishawaka Hydro, retired May 1 after 21 years of service.

Kentucky Power Company

Rudy Jasenec, Mitchell Plant, retired May 30 after 38 years of service.

Christal Dawn Smith, Mitchell Plant, retired April 1 after 34 years of service.

Ohio Power Company

Robert Boris, Steubenville Service Center, retired April 25 after 34 years of service.

Carl McCue, Tiffin Service Center, retired April 20 after 20 years of service.

Denver Shoemaker, Seaman Service Center, retired April 30 after 44 years of service.

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Charles Bilbrey, Elk City, retired May 23 after 39 years of service.

Arthur Branham, Northeastern Station 3&4, retired May 21 after 36 years of service.

Kathy Lewis, Tulsa General Office, retired May 1 after 32 years of service.

Southwestern Electric Power Company

Judy Ivey, Flint Creek Plant, retired April 25 after 22 years of service.

Randall McInnis, Shreveport Office, retired May 31 after 22 years of service.

Walter Millsap, Flint Creek Plant, retired April 18 after 33 years of service.

Transmission

William Arnold, Longview Operations, retired April 25 after 37 years of service.

Everett Darter, Longview Operations, retired May 31 after 43 years of service.

William Freeman, Lon Hill Service Center, retired May 30 after 47 years of service.

John Hanlon, One Summit Square, retired May 31 after 24 years of service.

Danny McGarvey, Lima Service Center, retired April 1 after 34 years of service.

Barry Rame, Alsuma Meter and Substation, retired May 2 after 31 years of service.

Gary Striggle, Spy Run Service Center, retired May 1 after 42 years of service.

Texas State Aquarium receives major donation from AEP Foundation

This is an artist’s rendering of the $50 million Caribbean Journey addition (foreground) that will introduce Texas State Aquarium guests to the sights, sounds, and vibrant wildlife of the Western Caribbean. Its construction will complete the final two phases of the aquarium’s original master plan and will transform the Texas State Aquarium from a leading regional aquarium to one of the top aquariums in the nation.

(Story by Andy Heines)

A $50 million expansion to the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, Texas, is predicted to transform the facility to one of the top aquariums in the nation. Last week, the American Electric Power Foundation awarded $500,000 to the Aquarium to help fund the Caribbean Journey addition.

Tom Schmid, Texas State Aquarium president and chief executive officer, noted that AEP Texas supported the Aquarium even before its doors opened 25 years ago.

“Since 1987, AEP Texas has been consistently generous in helping us advance our mission of connecting people with nature and inspiring conservation of the Gulf of Mexico,” Schmid said. “This latest investment affirms the AEP Foundation’s commitment to environmental education, wildlife conservation and economic development in this community and throughout Texas.”

Wade Smith, AEP Texas president and chief operating officer, echoed Schmid’s sentiments about the partnership between the two organizations and noted that Tom Shockley, former AEP vice chairman, was president of the Texas State Aquarium Board of Trustees in 1989. Smith currently is on the Aquarium Board of Trustees.

On hand for the check presentation ceremony were (left to right) AEP Texas President and COO Wade Smith, Texas State Aquarium President and CEO Tom Schmid and AEP Texas External Affairs Manager Ken Griffin.

“The AEP Foundation supports projects that enhance quality of life and educational opportunities within the communities we serve, especially projects that are related to the sciences,” he said.

The major gift will sponsor the Shark & Stingray Touch Exhibit in the new Caribbean Journey building. The habitat will house coastal Caribbean sharks and stingrays that visitors can see and touch, in a thematic exhibit featuring limestone structures and a sandy bottom.

The addition will introduce aquarium guests to the sights, sounds, and vibrant wildlife of the Western Caribbean. Its construction will complete the final two phases of the aquarium’s original master plan.

In late 2012, the Texas State Aquarium launched the leadership phase of Campaign Caribbean, a capital campaign to raise the necessary funds for construction of the Caribbean Journey wing. At 65,000 square feet, the new Caribbean Journey wing will be significantly larger than the original Gulf of Mexico exhibit building, thus more than doubling the aquarium’s indoor exhibit space. The building will feature immersive, state-of-the-art exhibits, as well as the first 4D theater south of San Antonio.

Grid Assurance™ speeds grid comeback, addresses resiliency mandates

(Story by Stephen Ostrander)

AEP and seven other companies today announced formation of a company that will hasten responses to major events that damage the electricity grid by providing transmission-owning subscribers faster access to domestically stored vital equipment.

Joining AEP in signing a memorandum of understanding to create Grid Assurance™ are affiliates of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Duke Energy, Edison International, Exelon, Eversource Energy, Great Plains Energy and Southern Company.  Grid Assurance filed a petition (declaratory order) with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) June 9 seeking confirmation that the new company can be part of a utility strategy to effectively address grid resiliency mandates.

Grid Assurance will own and provide subscribing utilities access to a domestic inventory of vital spare transmission equipment, such as transformers and circuit breakers for substations, whose replacement requires lengthy lead-times.

Grid Assurance, a limited liability company, will offer subscribers a cost-effective solution for responding to prolonged transmission outages after events such as natural disasters, terrorist or criminal attacks, cyberattacks or geomagnetic and solar storms.

“The electric power industry takes very seriously its responsibility to provide a safe, reliable and affordable electricity supply,” said Scott Moore, vice president of Transmission Engineering and Project Services who serves as executive sponsor of Grid Assurance. “This is a great example of our industry’s continued commitment to work together with governmental agencies to enhance the resiliency of its critical infrastructure.”

Benefits of Grid Assurance

Grid Assurance will own and provide subscribing utilities access to a domestic inventory of vital spare transmission equipment, such as transformers and circuit breakers for substations, whose replacement requires lengthy lead-times. For example, the typical lead-time for production and delivery of a large transformer is five to 16 months,* partly due to its probable manufacture overseas and transportation issues. In 2010, about 85 percent of the nation’s demand for power transformers (60 MVA and above) was met by foreign producers.**

To speed delivery to subscribers the company will store and maintain its inventory of spares in strategically located domestic warehouses and provide logistical and transportation services. Compared to “going it alone,” Grid Assurance subscribers will enjoy lower-cost grid recoveries because of faster access to critical equipment, economies of scale, increased buying power, and long-term relationships with vendors.

Grid Assurance will expand the existing inventory of spare equipment in the U.S. In April, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reported, “Key industry sources have identified the limited availability of spare LPTs (large power transformers) as a potential issue for critical infrastructure resilience in the United States.”*

Assuring grid resiliency

Grid Assurance addresses vulnerabilities in the nation’s grid emphasized in the recent DOE report.* The DOE called transmission transformers one of the grid’s “most vulnerable components.” Current grid protections, the report added, “….may not be adequate to address the security and reliability concerns associated with simultaneous failures of multiple high-voltage transformers.”

Grid Assurance services will complement the Edison Electric Institute’s existing Spare Transformer Equipment Program (STEP), which provides utilities transformers of limited voltages after a presidential declaration of a national emergency caused by terrorism. Beyond that, Grid Assurance will offer subscribers equipment (transformers, circuit breakers and other items) from an inventory matching their needs after a broader spectrum of qualifying events.

Overcoming hurdles

Grid Assurance’s action at FERC addresses potential regulatory uncertainties that could be an impediment to prospective utility subscribers. In its declaratory order, Grid Assurance asked the federal regulatory body to acknowledge that its service is “a permissible element of a mandatory physical security plan” required by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, specifically reliability standard CIP-014-1.***  Grid Assurance asked FERC to act on its petition within 60 days.

Subscription is available to any transmission owner or transmission developer in the United States, including investor-owned utilities, government-owned utilities, rural electric cooperatives and merchant transmission companies.

Contingent on regulatory approvals, Grid Assurance anticipates accepting subscribers and identifying inventory in 2016.

Did you know?

Weather-related outages cost the U.S. economy an estimated $20 billion to $55 billion annually.*

A report by Lloyds of London estimates that a large geomagnetic disturbance event could cost more than $2 trillion and lead to disruptions lasting up to two years.**

Sources

* U.S. Department of Energy, Quadrennial Energy Review: Energy Transmission, Storage,
and Distribution Infrastructure, April 2015. References of this report that appear in the text also can be found in the Grid Assurance declaratory order.

**Grid Assurance Petition for Declaratory filed at FERC on June 10, 2015

***NERC Reliability Standard CIP-014-1 requires utilities to enhance physical security measures for the most critical bulk-power system facilities and lessen the overall vulnerability of the system against physical attacks. The standard becomes effective October 1.

Glen Lyn Plant: A history of service

Brad Jones, plant manager at Glen Lyn Plant, has worked at the facility for 21 years.

(Story by Ken Drenten and John Shepelwich)

GLEN LYN, Va. – The employees of Glen Lyn Plant, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains along the New River near the border between Virginia and West Virginia, have delivered generations of reliable electricity and service to the region.

This year’s closing of the plant brings an end to not only AEP’s oldest and smallest operating unit – Glen Lyn Unit 5, a 95-megawatt unit in operation since 1944 – but to an era extending for nearly 100 years in southwestern Virginia.

The plant, once owned by the Appalachian Power Company – an identically named but different company from today’s Appalachian Power – has been generating electricity since July 1919. At that time, a single 15-megawatt unit went online, supplying electricity to the coal mining industry and small towns in the area. The original owners of Glen Lyn Plant also operated Buck and Byllesby hydro units on the New River, both of which started operation in 1912.

Glen Lyn’s Units 2 and 3, rated at 20 MW each, came online in September 1920 and February 1924, respectively. American Gas & Electric Co. (the name by which AEP was known until 1958) acquired the plant in 1925, and 25-MW Unit 4 entered service in May 1927.

These four units continued to operate together until 1954, when Unit 1 was retired. In 1957, Units 2, 3, and 4 were placed in “cold storage” for potential future use, and Units 3 and 4 were reactivated from 1966 to 1971. The four original turbines and all 13 original boilers were retired in 1971.

Facts about Glen Lyn Plant

  • Units 5 & 6 (335 MW) capable of net annual generation of more than 1,500,000 megawatthours

  • Plant annual payroll $2.7 million in 2014

  • Local property tax payments about $578,000

View a local television news report on the closing of Glen Lyn Plant.

The two Glen Lyn units now being retired are Units 5 and 6. Unit 5, a 95-MW unit, entered service in May 1944 and has been the oldest and smallest coal-fired unit on the AEP system. At the time it began operation, it was the largest coal-fired unit in the southeastern United States. The unit set what was then a system record by running for 27 continuous months, from Dec. 12, 1946, to March 30, 1949.

Unit 6 entered service in May 1957, producing 240 MW, more than the five previous units combined. In 1956, prior to entering service, Unit 6 produced an industry first with the first use of a single turbine-driven boiler feed pump integrated into the thermodynamic cycle.

On April 7, 2015, the coal pile for Unit 6 was finally exhausted, and the unit was shut down. Unit 5 was brought online briefly this spring to burn about 1,500 tons of coal dumped into its bunkers but not used last winter. Only a few years ago, when both units ran on a regular basis, the plant consumed 600,000 to 700,000 tons of coal annually, according to Henry Parker, production supervisor.

Plant has played major role in lives of employees, communities

Plant Manager Brad Jones, who arrived at Glen Lyn in 1994 as assistant plant manager from Breed Plant in Indiana, said Glen Lyn has played a major role in the community in terms of social and economic impact.

“This plant has provided employment to multiple generations of families and has touched the lives of nearly everyone in the local communities in some fashion or another,” Jones said. “I have 663 names on my list of present and past employees.”

Jones added that people have been the best part of his experience at Glen Lyn. “The part I will miss the most will be that I’ll no longer see most of the people I have worked with over the last 21 years,” he said. “I am proud of the fact that we accomplished the last five years of winding down plant operations with a good safety record, and that we met the needs of our customers by being available and on line when our generation was needed.” He has also enjoyed the history of the plant and involvement in the local communities.

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Glen Lyn Plant is the focal point of the village of Glen Lyn, and of Giles County. When the plant was originally built from 1917 to 1919, it boosted the town’s population from 50 to 400. Although many of the plant’s employees have commuted to the plant to work from nearby towns, historically many plant employees have served in the community as elected officials, firefighters, and in many community activities.

“The loss of the plant will have a significant effect on the local tax base as well as losing the incomes of employees who shopped locally,” Jones said. “Most people in the community are sad to see the plant close, and have expressed that feeling to those of us who are working here.”

The plant is connected to the nation’s two world wars. Construction originally began in 1917, when the country was involved in World War I. Prior to the installation of Unit 5 during World War II in 1944, the unit’s design was ordered to be changed significantly by the War Production Board to save the use of large machine tools and space in the turbine manufacturer’s shop, and to save critical materials needed for the war effort.

In the plant’s very early years, nearly all of its auxiliary equipment was run by steam. That meant if the power went out, workers had to use lanterns to read gauges in the powerhouse. Then they would rap loudly on the pipes to communicate to workers elsewhere — two raps meant more water, one rap meant to stop.

Glen Lyn’s first two units were built without the use of welds – all the joints were flanged. It was not until 1924, when Unit 3 was under construction, that welding was first used.

Glen Lyn employees, retirees gather for one last time together

The 30-plus remaining employees of Glen Lyn gathered one last time for lunch in the plant meeting hall May 19. It was probably the last time they will be together as a work team with the plant’s official planned retirement approaching on May 31 and fellow workers beginning to move to new jobs or retirement. “We just thought it would be a good idea to gather all of the employees together as a team one last time without an additional crowd,” said Jones.

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Long-time Glen Lyn plant employee Mark Repass was asked to offer up the blessing before the meal.

“Lord, the time you gave us here was short,” he prayed. “But it was good.”

That was followed with a number of quiet “amens” and was the overriding theme of most of the employees as they begin to transfer to new jobs or more time at home. A large number of the remaining plant employees have been at Glen Lyn for more than 30 years.

Welder Ricky Miller has been there almost 38 years and said fellow workers are just like family. “Everybody was always out to help each other, but we also enjoyed playing practical jokes,” he said.

The plant and the job became part of his life which will change as he takes early retirement. “You get up every morning and come to Glen Lyn. You don’t know what time you’re getting home. But when you do, you get something to eat and you go to bed. Then you get up and come to Glen Lyn. Now (after retirement), I’m just going to get up.”

There was one more gathering at the plant before its official retirement when retirees mingled with active employees and toured the century-old facility for a last time on May 26. Between 1919 and 2015, almost 700 people were employed at Glen Lyn. About 50 of those who worked in the past were able to attend.

Many guests at the retiree gathering, like Duard Garrison, took one last walk through the plant. He looked over areas that took up much of his working days as a welder and maintenance supervisor. Garrison paid particular attention to the feed pumps that were integral to the operation of the now-quiet Unit 5. He retired in 1989 after 38 years at the plant, and his father-in-law also worked at Glen Lyn.

Others spent time slapping old friends on the back and reminiscing about days gone by.

Fairley Long began working at the plant while still a student at West Virginia University in 1963 and came on fulltime in 1966 after graduation. He retired in 2003 as operations superintendent. While the newest generating unit (Unit 6) was installed almost a decade before his fulltime job, Long saw and oversaw a lot of change and transition at Glen Lyn.

“On the technical side, things were constantly changing at the plant,” Long said. “We were generating more efficiently, taking care of environmental issues and working smarter. In the control rooms, we had essentially mechanical recording devices when I started, added analog controls a short time later, and were transitioning to a digital system when I retired.”

He observed that some things did not change. “All of the employees during all of those years were friends and team members on the job. We had to work that way or it wouldn’t have been a safe place. That never changed,” he said.

Glen Lyn has unique connection to movie, engineering book

Glen Lyn Plant has a unique connection to a Hollywood movie and to a book produced by The Ohio State University College of Engineering.

This book details an extensive test of Glen Lyn Plant’s systems that took place in late 1921.

“A Beautiful Mind,” starring Russell Crowe, won the Oscar for Best Picture for 2001. The movie focused on the life of the late John F. Nash Jr., a brilliant mathematician who shared the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. His father, John F. Nash Sr., was an electrical engineer for Appalachian Power.

Nash Sr. was cited for his assistance with the 1922 book, “Test of Glenlyn (sic) Generation Station,” by E.H. Hitchcock, dean of the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University, who investigated operating efficiencies at the new plant and produced the book-length detailed report. Several of the photos from the book are included in a slideshow with this article.

“The plant as a whole impresses you with its simplicity, with the ease of accessibility of equipment, the excellent lighting and the ample space for apparatus,” wrote Hitchcock. “During the writer’s experience in plant investigation work covering a period of over 25 years, he has never experienced so much satisfaction in the work due to cleanliness and accessibility.”

Ohio State’s College of Engineering is now housed within Hitchcock Hall, named for the author of the Glen Lyn report. Employees at the plant discovered an original copy of the book and plan to donate the book to the college.

Editor’s Note: Thank you to Dan Duellman, Sarah Hunyadi, Brad Jones and Walt Raub for their valuable contributions to this article.

Kanawha River Plant provided economical, locally-abundant coal-fired energy for 62 years

Plant manager Aaron Sink at Kanawha River Plant.

(Story by Rachel Hammer)

In the 1950s, coal began a 50-year run as the fastest growing fuel source for electric power generation. Appalachian Power Company’s Kanawha River Plant joined that run in 1953, generating electricity from economical and locally-abundant coal throughout its 62-year life.

Now, as the U.S. moves away from coal and other fossil fuels, the Glasgow, W.Va., plant is powering off and closing its doors.

                       Kanawha River Plant

             Construction Facts & Design Specs

Construction began Oct. 1950

In service:

Unit 1 – July 17, 1953

Unit 2 – Dec. 31, 1953

Construction jobs: 1,800 at peak
Estimated cost: $46 million
Concrete: 53,000 cubic yards
Structural steel: more than 6,600 tons
Each 200-MW unit estimated to serve about 275,000 households of “average demands.”
The two units combined estimated to be able to serve a city the size of Philadelphia.
Estimated coal use: about 1.08 million tons per year.
Boiler height: 123 feet
Boiler space requirements: 56 x 60 feet each
Operating steam pressure: 2,075 pounds per square inch
Rated steam output: 1,335,000 pounds per hour.
Water use: 140,000 gallons of Kanawha River water per condenser per minute.

Kanawha River Plant’s two 200-megawatt (MW) units were the first in a series of five such units. The other units in the series – Muskingum River units 1 and 2 and Tanners Creek Unit 3 – also are retiring at this time.

Kanawha River was initially envisioned as having five 175-MW units. The water circulation tunnels and coal belts were built to serve a plant of that size. However, at some point the decision was made to place three of the units elsewhere.

The company introduced the new Kanawha River Plant at a Press Day tour Aug. 18, 1953.

There are many ways to describe Kanawha River Plant and the employees who have operated and maintained it over the years. Here are just a few:

Kanawha River Plant: Efficient

During its operating life, Kanawha River Plant was recognized on several occasions for its efficiency as measured by heat rate, which is the measure used to determine how efficiently the plant converts the energy in fuel (coal) into electric energy.

According to the Federal Power Commission, Kanawha River was the most efficient plant in the U.S. in 1953, 1954 (9,113 Btu) and 1957. It was the most efficient plant on the AEP system in 1958.

Kanawha River Plant was the second most efficient plant in the world in 1956, the year in which the world’s top five most efficient plants were all engineered by the same organization: AEP.

Kanawha River Plant: Responsible

At the time of construction, a company news release stated, “The plant is equipped with the most modern, highly efficient equipment for the removal of fly ash from combustion gases. Located on the roof is a combination mechanical-electrostatic precipitator for each unit. The precipitators trap the particles of fly ash contained in the gases before they come from the stacks….It is expected that about 95 percent of the fly ash will be removed this way. The small percentage remaining, which will be exceedingly fine, will be dissipated in the upper atmosphere.”

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Kanawha River Plant: Leader

AEP’s marketing of coal combustion products had its roots at Kanawha River. The plant was the first in the AEP system to be built using fly ash-based concrete. And in the early 1960s, when most utilities considered ash as a waste product to be disposed of, plant manager Henry Skaggs wrote, “Fly ash should be thought of as a useful byproduct of coal that can be utilized if quality controlled.”

With the conversion of the plant’s ash-handling equipment to a dry system and under Skaggs’ quality control guidance, the plant produced an ash suitable for use in the manufacture of concrete. The product was marketed to concrete companies, and in less than a decade, sales of Kanawha River ash soared from zero to nearly 40,000 tons. Skaggs’ success earned him a reputation as the “father of fly ash sales,” and led to the creation of AEP’s Ash Management section.

While most of Kanawha River Plant’s fly ash was used for the production of concrete, it also went to other beneficial uses. Several area residential and commercial projects stand on ash structural landfills. And in nearby Fayette County, an ash grout pumped into worked-out mine cavities stabilizes the ground near the base of the New River Gorge Bridge.

Complete ash utilization allowed Kanawha River to operate without a structural ash landfill. Even ash that was not sold was hauled back to an active mine site and used in mine reclamation work.

 

Kanawha River Plant:  Innovative

Teamwork has always been key at Kanawha River Plant.

In 1991, Kanawha River faced two major condenser retubing outages – jobs that would normally call for specialized, outside labor. At the time, however, the plant was severely underutilized, so employees took on the projects essentially on their own. Employees from each of the plant’s work groups united and successfully worked to improve their plant.

In 1995, the group took its show on the road, first to Amos Plant to retube two condensers and repair a precipitator, then to Gavin to perform coal yard repairs. At the time, plant manager Mike Siemiaczko said, “People wondered whether a team with such diverse skills and backgrounds could work together. In both cases, our employees worked well together, got the job done right and saved the company some money.”

This activity seems to have led to the plant catching a second wind. Old equipment was repaired or replaced, operating costs were reduced and safety performance improved. That year, the plant took some big steps forward. Internal reorganization allowed employees to make repairs on a more timely basis. Siemiaczko said the teams bonded well, and the plant was utilized more often.

Kanawha River Plant:  Resourceful

This wasn’t the only time Kanawha River Plant employees demonstrated resourcefulness in getting the job done. Deb Osborne, who was plant manager from 2012-2013, recalled that when the July 2012 derecho took out the microwave system that supported telephone service to the plant, the active team leader maintained contact with generation dispatchers in Columbus via his personal cell phone.

With installation of an E-Crane in 2008, the plant could again receive coal by barge, increasing its delivery options.

Kanawha River Plant: Adaptable

While Kanawha River relied predominately on local coal delivered by truck, it had the ability to receive coal by barge. However, when the plant’s original barge-unloading crane was retired, the plant had to rely solely on truck delivery for a period of time.

In 2008, installation of a new E-Crane meant the plant again was able to take delivery by barge, increasing the plant’s fuel delivery options in what had become an ever-changing market.

An E-Crane (equilibrium crane) uses a counterweight to help it do its work. It features a parallelogram-style boom that that provides a direct mechanical connection between the counterweight – filled with concrete – and the load.

Kanawha River Plant: Dedicated

Former plant manager Joe Karrasch noted employees’ dedication, expressed through their commitment to safety and the way they took total ownership of the facility.

“Kanawha River was the cleanest coal plant in the AEP system and this was achieved only through this total ownership attitude,” Karrasch said. “In addition to this ownership attitude — at every level — the organization was committed to learning and operational excellence.”

Karrasch, who was plant manager from 2006 through 2008, is now asset investments manager, Commercial Operations (regulated).

Current Plant Manager Aaron Sink also noted the dedication and focus of Kanawha River Plant employees.

“No doubt about it, the employees of KRP are dedicated to generating electricity,” he said. “Just take a look at their contribution during the polar vortex and the second coldest winter in the last 35 years. Even though they knew we would be shutting down in May of 2015, they continued to add value with honor and integrity.

“I’m proud to be associated with them,” Sink concluded.

Contributors: Phil Moye, Joe Karrasch, Deb Osborne, Walt Raub, Aaron Sink.

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