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Industry News

SWEPCO's Ultra-Supercritical Turk Coal Plant Commences Operations

LCG, December 21, 2012--Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), a unit of American Electric Power (AEP), announced that commercial operation commenced yesterday at the 600-MW John W. Turk, Jr. Power Plant near Fulton, Arkansas.

The John W. Turk, Jr. Power Plant is the first ultra-supercritical generating unit to go into operation in the U.S. The high-efficiency design operates at higher temperatures and will produce fewer emissions to generate the same amount of power as existing coal units. The plant will consume low-sulfur coal from the Powder River Basin (PRB) in Wyoming.

"The Turk Plant is yet another example of AEP's long history of advancing coal-fueled generating technologies. AEP built our nation's first supercritical coal-fueled power plants decades ago. At Turk, we've deployed ultra-supercritical generating technology, and built one of the nation's cleanest, most efficient pulverized coal generating plants," said AEP's president and chief executive officer. "Turk will provide reliable, affordable power for our customers and project partners and will provide significant benefits for the area's economy. I commend our employees and the business and community partners who helped make Turk happen."

The new, $1.8 billion facility is owned by SWEPCO (73 percent); Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (12 percent); East Texas Electric Cooperative (8 percent); and Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority (7 percent).

The project encountered multiple regulatory hurdles due in part to the geographically dispersed areas served. The Arkansas Public Service Commission approved the facility in 2007, but the Arkansas Supreme Court reversed the decision, causing SWEPCO to pursue new markets in lieu of serving its retail customers in Arkansas.

Construction of the plant was also approved by the Louisiana Public Service Commission and Public Utility Commission of Texas in March 2008 and July 2008, respectively, to serve SWEPCO's Louisiana and Texas customers. Construction began shortly after the air permit was received from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality in November 2008.

A settlement was also required to address all legal actions from the Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society and Audubon Arkansas related to the plant. The settlement called for SWEPCO and its affiliates to construct or secure 400 MW of new renewable energy resources by the end of 2014. In January 2012, SWEPCO announced that the power purchase agreements (PPAs) were secured from wind projects in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
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