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West Virginia Power Plants Ran Out Of Coal In Late 2021, AEP Testifies

David Adkins
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Conveyer belts and heavy machinery near AEP's Mountaineer Power Plant in Mason County, West Virginia.

Late last year, the unthinkable happened. Power plants in West Virginia, the nation’s No. 2 coal producer, ran out of coal.

In testimony in recent weeks filed with the state Public Service Commission, American Electric Power told regulators it couldn’t replenish its coal supply after September because of high worldwide demand.

The price of natural gas skyrocketed last year as the economy rebounded from COVID-19. Coal prices rose, too, but it became the cheaper way to generate electricity.

AEP told regulators it couldn’t get Appalachian coal producers to replenish its coal stocks. The company even looked as far as Illinois and Wyoming.

As a result, the company had to idle its West Virginia power plants for longer periods than planned. Otherwise, they risked running out of coal during the peak winter months.

Additionally, AEP had to purchase electricity from other sources at a higher price. The company is asking the PSC for a 9.7% rate increase effective May 1.

Energy & Environment Reporter, ctate@wvpublic.org, 202-679-8470, @tatecurtis

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