LG&E to convert Cane Run power plant to burn cleaner natural gas

September 15, 2011-by James Bruggers in the Louisville Courier Journal

LG&E's Cane Run plant in operation since 1954 is about to be retired in Louisville. The plant has created nightmares for the people who have lived adjacent and new rules requiring clean up made the plant obsolete. The plant will be retired along with two others in the EON system in Kentucky. Photo © 2011 John Blair

Louisville Gas & Electric Co. intends to replace its 57-year-old coal-fired Cane Run Station in Louisville with a new plant next door powered with cleaner-burning natural gas by 2016.

The 640-megawatt natural gas unit would be built on the powerplant site along the Ohio River in southwest Jefferson County, where the company also has a large coal-burning waste landfill and ash pond, company officials announced on Thursday.

LG&E and its sister company, Kentucky Utilities, also announced that they are asking the Kentucky Public Service Commission to approve their purchase of the Bluegrass Generation Co.’s plant in Oldham County with it’s three natural gas turbines. That plant in Buckner began electricity production in 2002.

Those turbines will provide as much as 495 megawatts of electricity during peak demand periods, allowing the utilities to shut down two other aging coal-fired plants operated by KU: Green River in Central City and Tyrone in Versailles. The Tyrone plant has already been mothballed.

LG&E and KU officials said the older plants need to be replaced with natural gas units so the companies can meet stricter U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for mercury and hazardous air pollutants.

The companies first signaled that the plants might be closed in April, when they filed long-range planning documents with the PSC, calling for as much as 2,721 new megawatts of power produced from natural gas.

New filings with the commission on Thursday detail for the first time how and when the companies intend to begin to meet that target and replace the generating capacity from the three coal-fired plants, company officials said.

One megawatt is typically enough to power between 500 and 1,000 homes.

Reporter James Bruggers can be reached at (502) 582-4645.

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