News Column

Big Rivers sells more surplus power

June 13, 2014

By Chuck Stinnett, The Gleaner, Henderson, Ky.

June 13--Big Rivers Electric Corp. has made another sale of surplus electricity that will delay the planned closing of its power plant in Ohio County until at least the end of 2015.

Big Rivers' Energy Service group successfully executed a sale to an unnamed buyer of 200 megawatts (MW) of on-peak power from the D.B. Wilson plant for all of 2015, according to Sharla Austin-Darnell, director of risk management and strategic planning for the Henderson-based utility.

That follows a previous transaction through which Big Rivers sold 200 MW of electricity from Wilson through February 2015.

Combined with the most recent transaction, Big Rivers will be selling 400 MW of the Wilson plant's 417 MW of generating capacity during January and February 2015.

After February, the remaining 217 MW of Wilson's capacity from March through December 2015 will be available for sale into what's called the day-ahead market of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, the nonprofit organization that manages regional electric transmission systems in all or parts of 15 U.S. states and the Canadian province of Manitoba, including Big Rivers'.

The Wilson as well as the Coleman power plant in Hancock County were once needed to help Big Rivers meet its power demands. But after the Century Aluminum smelters at Hawesville and Sebree left the Big Rivers system several months ago to buy electricity on the open market, the two power plants were slated to be idled.

The power sales are keeping Wilson in operation, while Coleman is being mothballed.

Big Rivers has raised wholesale electric rates for the three rural electric co-ops it serves, including Henderson-based Kenergy Corp., and has a second rate increase scheduled to go into effect next year to make up for the loss of the two smelters.

Its longer-term mitigation plan is to secure a large new customers or long-term buyers for its surplus generating capacity so it can eventually reduce electric rates for its core customers.

"We are very proud of these efforts, which prove that our Load Mitigation Plan is working" -- by showing that there is a market for its surplus power -- "(and that) our generation assets bring value to Western Kentucky, and our employees' dedication and hard work through these challenging times is paying off," Austin-Darnell said in a statement.


(c)2014 The Gleaner (Henderson, Ky.)

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Source: Gleaner, The (Henderson, KY)

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