An excerpt of an interview with Kentucky PSC Commissioner Talina Mathews in “Day at the Kentucky PSC,” March PUF:
“In Eastern Kentucky, the Appalachian basin with the low-sulfur coal had been able to help a lot of utilities around the country meet their sulfur-dioxide emissions. It was cheaper to buy the compliance coal than it was to put the scrubbers on.
Every year the emission limits were getting tighter and tighter, and suddenly you had to look at making one of the following decisions:
I’m going to put the scrubber on and if I do, I’m not going to pay twice as much for compliance coal.
I’m going to go get Western Kentucky, or Illinois basin coal that’s higher sulfur, high BTU and cheaper.
If I don’t put on scrubbers or other equipment, then I am going to close the coal plant and likely build natural gas generation, if anything.
These changes have created hardship for both the Eastern and Western Kentucky areas, and consequently for their utilities as well. Fewer customers, buying less of your product, means fixed costs get spread among fewer and fewer customers. This is true of electricity, gas, water and wastewater utilities. This is and will continue to be an issue that we will deal with going forward.”