CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Despite mounting tensions over the future use of coal in electricity production, Appalachian Power said there is no diversion in its present strategy.
Appalachian’s parent company, American Electric Power, advertised for bids last week seeking 7.4 million tons of coal on the spot market, causing some unease about the company’s future plans. Company officials have reassured it is part of their normal strategy.
“We use a combination of contracts,” said Jeri Matheney, Appalachian Power’s communications director. “We get long-term, short-term and still end with spot coal. That’s all we’re doing, looking for proposals for spot coal.”
There is growing unrest in the coal industry as low-cost natural gas and other fuels become attractive alternatives amid proposed regulations from federal regulators. Matheney said there has been no change in Appalachian Power’s coal-reliant strategy.
“Right now we’ve got one natural gas combined cycle plant—that’s the Dresden plant,” Matheney said. “Other than that, we’re mostly a coal-fired company and we intend to stay that way.”
The company’s largest production units at John Amos, Mountaineer, and the Mitchell Power Station will stay open and continue to operate on coal, Matheney said. She cautioned the proposed regulations from the EPA for existing coal-fired power plants are still only proposals and the company will be commenting on those regulations as part of the process.
The recent announcement of spot coal purchases is the normal course of business, Matheney said, adding “it gives us good flexibility so we can use the best cost coal. We can seek out the best option for coal for all our markets.”