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Pirkey Power Plant in Harrison County slated for shutdown in 2023

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 2:36 PM CST
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HARRISON COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - SWEPCO’s Pirkey Power Plant near Hallsville is shutting down. But not until the third quarter of 2023. He spoke with a SWEPCO representative to find out why, and if this will affect customers in the coming years.

SWEPCO Spokesman Mark Robinson says the H.W. Pirkey Power Plant was built in 1985 and now has:

“One-hundred and six employees, over 700 megawatts of power behind us, and just an exceptional plant and we hate to see it go,” Robinson said.

And he says it’s because Pirkey burns coal.

“A lot of the coal industry is facing regulations from the EPA; governmental regulations, as well as emissions regulations. And so a lot of these have just become very expensive, and so it makes it economically not feasible for us to continue running the plant. It’s getting very expensive to run a coal fire power plant. We’ve already put scrubbers on many of our plants, and it showed to be pretty expensive; and don’t think we could do that again on a 36 year old plant, and still be able to say that we’re using our customer’s money wisely,” Robinson said.

But for now it runs, and Pirkey helped the power flow during last February’s freeze.

“This is one of the plants that kept the power going. We had our Knox Lee Power Plant down the road as well; natural gas unit that ran very well. This one ran very well,” Robinson said.

And there was another reason the power stayed on for SWEPCO customers.

“We had access to 14 states worth of power kind of up the middle of the United States in the southwest power pool,” Robinson said.

The AEP sharing helped keep the power on. And this winter the plant will be up, but in about two years the plant will be shut down.

“We’re going for two years ahead and saying, okay, what can we do. You know, we’re asking in community meetings for our community’s imagination: what do you see for this site,” Robinson said.

Robinson says he believes it’s fortunate that they have some time to decide about their next step.

SWEPCO is holding two community meetings to answer questions and get community input. The first is November 29 at the Hallsville Community Center from 6pm to 7:30 pm. The second is at the Harrison County Courthouse on November 30 from 6pm to 7:30 pm.

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