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With Amos 1 restart, AEP concludes massive construction investment initiated in 2004

by on February 10, 2011

Story written by Rachel Hammer

WINFIELD, W.Va. — In mid-January, Unit 1 of AEP’s John Amos Plant resumed operation following tie-in of its new flue-gas desulfurization (FGD or scrubber) system. This marked the completion of a massive environmental retrofit initiative that, at one time, was the utility sector’s largest construction program.

In 2004, AEP announced an unprecedented environmental controls retrofit program to address plant emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx). Seven years and approximately $4.2 billion (AEP ownership share) later, AEP has installed FGD systems to reduce SO2 emissions from more than 6,700 megawatts (MW) of its owned generating capacity and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems on more than 1,900 MW of owned capacity to address NOx emissions.*

Units receiving FGD systems were:

Mitchell Plant Units 1 and 2;
Mountaineer Plant;
Cardinal Plant Units 1, 2 and 3**;
Conesville Unit 4 and
John Amos Units 1, 2 and 3.

AEP installed SCR systems at Mitchell Units 1 and 2 and Conesville Unit 4. An upgrade of Pirkey Plant’s existing FGD system was included in the investment.

At the peak of construction activity, these projects created an estimated 8,500 temporary construction jobs involving workers from all 14 building trades. Operation of the new equipment also created nearly 300 new permanent AEP positions at the plants where the systems were installed.

“The complexity of our environmental compliance program provided numerous challenges,” commented Bill Sigmon, senior vice president – Engineering, Projects & Field Services. “However, through the efforts of our internal team and the partnerships we developed with contractors, our environmental initiative can only be characterized as a resounding success. This was truly a job well done.”

As part of the investment, AEP also proposed FGD system projects for Muskingum River Unit 5 and Big Sandy Unit 2. The company continues to evaluate these projects as it works toward the agreed-upon compliance deadline established in AEP’s New Source Review consent decree.

These environmental retrofits are in addition to an environmental controls investment of approximately $2 billion, primarily for SCR systems, from the mid 1990s through 2003.

At the height of construction activity in 2007, Engineering News-Record identified AEP’s overall construction program as the largest in the utility industry and the second largest in the nation, based on capital invested.

Generation’s construction program during this time frame included other projects in addition to the environmental retrofit investment. AEP was engaged in several new generation construction projects:

  • building the Mattison and Stall units and smaller peaking units at Riverside and Southwestern plants, and
  • starting construction of the John W. Turk Jr., Plant;
  • managing construction and start up of the first integrated carbon dioxide capture and storage project, and
  • initiating project management and construction responsibility for FGD projects at Ohio Valley Electric Corporation’s (OVEC) Clifty Creek and Kyger Creek plants. AEP is an OVEC member company.


AEP also pursued several smaller environmental retrofit projects including selective non-catalytic reduction systems, activated carbon injection technologies and mercury monitoring systems.

Most important, these projects are improving the environmental performance of AEP’s plants. “We are very pleased with the improved environmental performance of our fleet,” said Mark McCullough, executive vice president – Generation.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) most recent data (through 2009), U.S. electric utility

The base for one of the FGD units at Mitchell Plant is lowered into place earlier in the construction program.

 SO2 emissions have been reduced by 67 percent since 1980 and NOx emissions by 70 percent since 1990. AEP has reduced its emissions even more substantially over the same periods, with SO2 emissions dropping by 71 percent and NOx emissions by 78 percent. “Our most recent projects will provide even further reductions,” McCullough explained.

Still, this significant investment in environmental controls at AEP plants does not end here. The company anticipates that it will need to install additional controls, depending on the requirements of environmental regulations currently under development.

“We will need reasonable compliance deadlines in order to structure this effort in a way that minimizes the cost impact on our customers,” McCullough cautioned. “We continue to work with our states and U.S. EPA with this goal in mind.”

* Buckeye Power owns Cardinal Units 2 and 3, and Duke Energy and Dayton Power & Light are co-owners with AEP of Conesville Unit 4. Adding in the non-AEP owned generation, these projects retrofitted more than 8,400 MW of generation with FGD systems and approximately 2,380 MW with SCR systems.

** The FGD system at Cardinal Unit 3 is still under construction.

From → News From AEP

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