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AEP Seeks PJM Review of Interconnection Feasibility for Possible IGCC Plant Sites

American Electric Power (AEP) last Thursday disclosed that it has asked PJM Interconnection to evaluate transmission interconnection feasibility for three potential sites being considered by AEP for a commercial-scale Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) clean-coal power plant, the first of its size in the country.

The three potential sites included in the filings with PJM are on land currently owned by AEP and meet the criteria identified by the company as necessary for building and operating the plant, including acreage, contour, proximity to water source, accessibility, timely permitting and other environmental factors.

The three potential sites included in the filings are: Mason County, WV, adjacent to AEP's Mountaineer Plant; Meigs County, OH, in the Great Bend area; and Lewis County, KY, in the Carrs area near Vanceburg. All are on the Ohio River.

"We are moving forward to build advanced coal-based generation that offers enhanced environmental performance," said Michael Morris, chairman of AEP. "This filing represents a significant step, but it doesn't rule out the possibility of filing for the review of additional potential sites as we determine the best location for the plant -- a location that addresses both our operational and regulatory needs."

Morris pointed out that the potential sites included in the filings meet operational criteria, but regulatory factors in each state will play a key role in final site selection. "We will not site a plant until we are comfortable about our ability to recover the costs of constructing and operating the plant," Morris said. "Over time, we expect to build several new plants, so cost recovery will be a critical part of our decision."

AEP announced in late August plans to build at least one commercial-scale, base-load IGCC plant by 2010. In January, an AEP spokesperson told NGI that the utility expects to disclose a site for the IGCC plant within the next six months.

IGCC technology converts coal into a gas and moves it through pollutant-removal equipment before the gas is burned in gas turbines that drive electric generators. The heat produced by the gas turbines is recovered in boilers that produce steam to drive a steam turbine also coupled to an electric generator. The integrated process results in fewer emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, particulates and mercury, in addition to lower carbon dioxide emissions.

The filings with PJM begin transmission interconnection feasibility studies to determine the transmission network upgrades and estimated cost needed at each potential site to connect a new plant to the existing transmission grid.

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