Coal, Emissions, Policy & Regulations

Coal-Fired Unit at Kentucky’s Elmer Smith Power Plant Set to Retire in Coming Years

Unit 1 of Elmer Smith Power Plant in Kentucky set to retire

Kentucky is set to retire another coal-fired power unit.  Owensboro Municipal Utilities is shutting down Unit 1 of the Elmer Smith Power Plant sometime between 2019 and 2021.

Elmer Smith Power Plant has two coal-fired units.  There are currently no plans to shut down the larger of the two, Unit 2.

Unit 1, which generates about 163 MW of power, produced more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2014.  Closing the unit is expected to bring the state closer to compliance with federal emissions standards.

WFPL-FM reports more than half of Kentucky’s coal plants operating in 2011 were built before 1970, and utilities are forced to decide whether to update plants or close them based on federal regulations and the availability of cheaper fuels like natural gas.

OMU CEO Terrance Naulty says the decision to retire Unit 1 is purely economical.

“It makes more sense for us to invest in newer, cleaner, cheaper technology than to invest in the older coal-fired generation,” Naulty tells WFPL-FM.

Naulty says OMU will likely look at natural gas or renewable energy to replace the power generated by the coal-fired unit.