The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a plan by Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities to retire several fossil fuel plants and replace them with significant solar and battery energy storage.
The plan calls for 877 MW of solar and 125 MW / 500 MWh of battery energy storage. This represents a 900% increase in renewable energy in their service areas. These resources are expected to be cost-effective replacements for the retirements of two coal-fired power plants and three natural gas fired plants.
“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,” said Terrell Holder, chair of Greater Louisville Group of the Sierra Club.
The retirements come as a result of a new state law that requires utilities to acquire approval from the PSC to retire fossil fuel facilities.
The solar and battery storage projects came with support from the Sierra Club, which performed a study that showed that rolling blackouts during Winter Storm Elliott were caused by coal plant failures in cold weather.
“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 Holder.
Sierra Club is also urging the PSC to investigate the potential for the two utilities to join a broader regional organization to secure lower customer prices and lower the risk of further winter blackouts.
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