SWEPCO seeking regulatory approval to close lignite-fueled Dolet Hills Power Station

Louisiana-based utility Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) will file for regulatory approval before closing its coal-fired Dolet Hills Power station by the end of 2026.

The proposed closure is part of an agreement with the Sierra Club which will withdraw its legal challenges over Dolet Hills. SWEPCO is committed to making necessary regulatory filings at least 12 months prior to the plant retirement date, according to the announcement.

“With this agreement, we continue to focus on the economic operations of the plant and lignite mine to best serve our customers,” Brian Bond, SWEPCO vice president of external affairs, said in a statement. “This action follows our change to seasonal operations last year as we adjust to electric power market conditions and the challenges of mining the Oxbox lignite reserves.”

Bond added that Dolet Hills’ environmental performance has been “exceptional for decades” and in full compliance with federal and state regulations.

The 650-MW Dolet Hills Power Plant is located near Mansfield, La. It began operations in 1986.

SWEPCO owns 40 percent of the facility. Fellow Louisiana-based utility Cleco Corp. owns 50 percent of the plant and operates the facility.

A SWEPCO subsidiary, Dolet Hills Lignite Co., operates the Oxbow Mine which provides fuel for the plant. More than 64 million tons of lignite coal have been extracted from the mine since 1984, but the reserves are well below the surface, according to reports.

The Arkansas Public Service Commission approved the settlement agreement in late December 2019 as part of its overall decision in the SWEPCO rate review.

SWEPCO, a subsidiary of American Electric POWER (AEP) serves more than 536,300 customers in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

(The Future of Coal-Fired Generation will be part of the exclusive content presented at POWERGEN International happening December 8-10 in Orlando. The POWERGEN call for abstracts is now open for submissions).

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