SWEPCO Receives Approval To Build Coal Plant

The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) has approved an application by Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) to construct a 600-megawatt coal-fueled power plant in Hempstead County in southwest Arkansas.

The three-member commission voted 2-1 to approve SWEPCO's request at the PUCT's July 3 open meeting in Austin.

"The Texas Commission's approval of the John W. Turk, Jr. Power Plant means Texas customers will continue to benefit from a reliable and affordable supply of electricity in the years ahead," said Michael G. Morris, AEP Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer.  "Coal is essential to meeting the growing energy needs of our region and our country, and we are putting new technology to work in a facility that will generate electricity more efficiently with less environmental impact."

SWEPCO has now received approval to build the plant from all three of the states the company serves. The five-member Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) unanimously approved the request for certification March 19. The Arkansas Public Service Commission approved SWEPCO's request Nov. 21, 2007, and declined a request by certain intervenors in the case for rehearing Dec. 31, 2007. Intervenors have since appealed the case to the Arkansas Court of Appeals, where it is pending.

SWEPCO is awaiting an air permit from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality before construction of the power generation facilities can begin. "We continue to work with ADEQ and hope to have the air permit by the third quarter of this year," said Paul Chodak, SWEPCO President and Chief Operating Officer.

The estimated cost of the plant is approximately $1.52 billion with SWEPCO investing 73 percent of the total. SWEPCO will own 440 megawatts of the plant´s capacity. Construction will take approximately 48 months, with an expected commercial operation date in late summer 2012.