Regulators at the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) recently approved Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities’ request to install 877 MW of solar generation and a 500 MWh battery to generate and store power in the state. This decision represents a nine-fold increase in the amount of renewable energy LG&E/KU provide today.
The PSC also approved the utility’s request to retire two coal-fired generating units and three gas-powered units: Mill Creek 1 and 2, Haefling 1 and 2, and Paddy’s Run 12. LG&E/KU applied in May to retire seven fossil fuel-fired electric generating units. Alongside the retirements, LG&E/KU sought to build hundreds of megawatts of solar generation, a battery and two new gas-powered units.
This is the first test of a new state law that requires utilities to get permission from regulators to retire fossil fuel power units. This case demonstrates that under the new law, coal generation can still be retired while maintaining, and even improving, the reliability of the electric grid. Sierra Club’s cross-examination in this case revealed that LG&E/KU’s rolling blackouts during Winter Storm Elliott were due in part to coal-fired generation failures in cold weather.
“Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities’ addition of renewable generation and retirement of several coal- and gas-fired units mark a significant step forward in creating a cleaner, healthier Kentucky. The enormous costs to bring these aging units in line with federal environmental regulations would have saddled customers with uneconomic plants that can’t run. Coal has proved to be unreliable, as demonstrated by last December’s rolling blackouts during Winter Storm Elliott that were in part caused by failures at coal-fired power plants. Closing these inefficient and unreliable units is absolutely the right business decision for LG&E/KU,” said Terrell Holder, chair of Greater Louisville Group of the Sierra Club, in a press statement.
“The approval of solar generation and battery storage is likewise a significant step forward,” he continued. “As LG&E/KU progresses in its generation planning, we urge the utility to continue to adopt renewable solutions that will promote affordability and health for Kentuckians. We further urge the Commission to investigate whether LG&E/KU joining a broader regional organization would provide net benefits to LG&E/KU customers, including in mitigating risk of winter weather blackouts.”
News item from the Sierra Club