Arkansas regulators asked to review emissions controls plan

Flint Creek coal-fired power plant

Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO), a unit of AEP (NYSE: AEP), and Arkansas Electric Co-Op Corp. (AECC) have asked the Arkansas Public Service Commission to review plans to install emissions controls at the 528 MW Flint Creek coal-fired power plant in Arkansas or close it by 2015.

SWEPCO filed the request with the commission on Feb. 8, 2012. Pending approval, construction would begin in 2014 with completion in 2015 with the possibility of a one-year extension to 2016. The estimated capital cost of the retrofit is $408 million which would be split between the co-owners.

SWEPCO and AECC’s review showed that retrofitting the plant would be more economical than switching to natural gas or building a combined-cycle natural gas-fired power plant on the site. The companies plan to install a dry flue gas desulfurization system, or a scrubber; a fabric filter, or a baghouse; an activated carbon injection and low NOx burners and overfire air system to control sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and other emissions.

The co-owners want to install the controls in order to comply with new Environmental Protection Agency requirements by April 2015. During an October hearing, the commission’s general staff argued that the scrubbers were not in the best interest of the public, but regulators agreed to let SWEPCO and AECC provide more evidence. That hearing is scheduled for March 5, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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