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Appalachian proposes gas conversion for Clinch River Plant

Wes Bunch • May 30, 2013 at 3:54 PM

KINGSPORT – Appalachian Power introduced a proposal Wednesday that would convert a portion of the coal-fired Clinch River Power Plant to natural gas if approved by Virginia regulators.

Appalachian is seeking to change two of its three generating units at the plant from coal-fired to natural gas fired, according to a company release.

The utility said the conversion would be the "least-cost" alternative to meeting the needs of customers while positively supporting the local economy and reducing emissions.

The plant's remaining coal-fired generator would be retired once the gas-powered units are online.

Appalachian Power President and CFO Charles Patton the plant's three units have performed well over their 50-year history, but need to be shut down since they would not be able to meet recently approved and anticipated enviromental requirements.

According to a filing with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, Appalachian expects the project to cost $65 million, with cost recovery expected in a future rate proceeding.

Appalachian said the project would cost a customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours a month less than 50 cents. The request also calls for a natural gas pipeline to be built to supply the plant.

If approved, Appalachian expects the project to generate 267 short-term and 117 long-term jobs in the region, as well as roughly $1 million in tax revenue for Russell County.

Appalachian said it plans to have the conversions completed and the new generators online by 2016 if they project is given the go ahead.

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