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.”

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  • David Kennedy

    Coal is getting 'Hot in Europe...
    6 new coal plants for Germany alone.
    It's all about buying 'Pollution Credits on the 'cheap and burning 'dirty coal anyway..
    America will pay for the worlds pollution while other countries smile with cheaply produced electricity...and trade goods.
    China is not the only country that is producing cheap power with coal.
    Europe has been in the doldrums for decades because their exports are expensive. Cheap energy may see them get an economic handle on things after all.
    One thing about it...Europe needs WV coal and it may keep our mining people in jobs after all.

  • Harpers Ferry

    Burning coal AND it's power plants seems like a bad business practice.

    • Aaron

      Given the reduction of harmful emissions at powerplants coupled with the cost of their product, what would you replace coal with to produce the 30 to 35% of our electricity currently produced by coal?

      • Harpers Ferry

        I guess you're missing my point. Why would you burn your power plants, as indicated by the caption to the story's picture.

        • Aaron


  • cutty77

    Only the Strong will make it through all of this.Coal has been around along time,and will continue to be.

  • Jason412

    Hooked on coal, not on fishing.

  • CaptainQ

    The Obama Administration will NOT be pleased with this news.

    • The bookman

      I disagree Captain. The Obama Administration needs high emitters to buy the credits from the low emitters to fund this transition from fossil to renewable. John Amos has a big target on its back, zeroed in right on its wallet. The grid requires coal's generation for decades, so it should come as no secret that plants like John Amos will stay online. It is simply not preferred by the government, and as a result, overall costs will increase. The consumer will foot the bill, as always, through higher rates.

      The bad news for WV, and other Eastern Coal producers, is that the reduced domestic demand for coal will pressure price per ton downward, making it less profitable to mine. With 25 percent of our domestic demand removed in the next 15 to 20 years, guess whose production is idled? The coal with the slimmest margins. We better drill baby drill if we are to survive.

  • Shadow

    Wasn't it King Coal that said: "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." or was it Mark Twain?

  • sham

    "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. Matheney said the recent announcement of spot coal purchases is the normal course of business for the company."
    . . . . the "War on Coal" is a political farce, being played out by both parties as they pander to their bases. Truth is coal exports will more than offset any domestic switches to cheaper fracked natural gas.

    • Wowbagger

      The problem with exports is port capacity (not enough) and depth (not deep enough for really big colliers). The coal will eventually be mined unless infrasrtucture is eliminated, but at a much lower rate, so there will be fewer jobs at any time.

      • new port options in the works

        3 new port heads are under construction in Oregon and Washington for the export of cheap western coal. Another dirty secret the Dems keep from environmentalists and the Repubs keep from West Virginians.

        • The bookman

          I wasn't aware it was a secret. If it was a secret, it was poorly kept, as every environmentalist is doing everything they can to block its construction, from the railways that would deliver it to the ports that would receive and ship it.

          It will be interesting if Warren Buffett will grease the process as BNSF will handle most of the rail. Shipping Western Coal will actually be a good thing for Eastern Coal, as at least it will be one less competitor for our market.

          • Shadow

            The real secret is the importing of coal, particularly from Columbia, Shipping Coal to Newcastle, and laying off in WV.

  • Aaron

    "There is growing unrest in the coal industry as low cost natural gas and other fuels becoming more attractive alternatives amid new proposed regulations from federal regulators."

    I agree natural gas is becoming an option but I would honestly like to see an intelligent post describing the other "attractive" sources of energy? All renewable energy sources are expected to increase from providing roughly 12% of our electrical generation today to 16% over the next 40 years. Despite the increased capacity of renewable energy sources, none are expected to provide enough energy production to meet increased demands.

    • Shadow

      All those renewable energy sources are great as long as the Sun shines and the wind blows but expensive for what you get.