History of Cane Run Plant

Cane Run Generating Station

The Cane Run plant site is rich in history, representing decades of reliable energy production, pioneering environmental technology, cutting-edge generation and the dedication of hard working of LG&E employees. The site was home to LG&E’s massive coal-fired generating plant from 1954 until it was retired on June 16, 2015. Days later, on June 19, Kentucky’s first natural gas combined-cycle (NGCC) generating unit – Cane Run 7 – went into commercial operations at the site. 


Cane Run Unit 7 

Cane Run 7

Cane Run Unit 7 generates electricity through two natural gas turbines, and uses the exhaust heat from those units to generate steam and produce additional electricity using a steam turbine.

The 640-megawatt unit more than replaced the remaining 563 megawatts that was retired at the coal-fired plant in 2015. Generally, the facility was retired as the result of increasingly strict U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements. Unit 7 also generates electricity with greater efficiency and lower emissions than the Cane Run coal plant, reducing particulate emissions by more than half, sulfur-dioxide emissions by 99 percent and nitrogen-oxide emissions by 82 percent.


Cane Run Coal-Fired Plant

Black and white photo of Cane Run Station on banks of river

Cane Run generating station was the answer to Louisville’s electricity needs during the dynamic decade of the 1950s. Construction of this new coal-fired plant was started in 1952 to help meet the booming demand for electricity by industries that located in the area during and after World War II.

Cane Run began operation in November 1954, and by 1969 operated a total of six units. The new units were added in 1956, 1958, 1962, 1966 and 1969, increasing the total generating capacity to 943 megawatts.

Units 1, 2 and 3 were retired by 1987. Cane Run Unit 6 was retired in March of 2015, and Units 4 and 5 were retired shortly after CR7 went into operation. 

At the peak of operations, the plant employed almost 500 people. 

President Jimmy Carter Visits Cane Run

President Jimmy Carter greets employees at Cane Run

LG&E pioneered sulfur-dioxide removal technology and helped develop and install one of the nation’s first scrubbers in 1973. Scrubbers are environmental controls that remove sulfur dioxide from gases produced by burning coal. In July 1979, President Jimmy Carter and other dignitaries visited Cane Run to see scrubbers in action, particularly on Unit 6, which used a ground-breaking dual-alkali process.

Carter advocated the use of coal in ways that would not be harmful to the environment, and he specifically chose to visit an LG&E plant because of the company’s reputation for being a leader in the development and use of scrubbers. The technology won LG&E coveted national and international awards. The presidential visit was a proud moment for Cane Run Station and LG&E. 

Cane Run Quick Facts

Coal-fired Plant

  • Net generating capacity: 928 megawatts
  • Original startup date: 1954
  • Fuel: Coal
  • Retired: June 16, 2015
  • Site of pioneering sulfur-dioxide removal (scrubber) technology
  • President Jimmy Carter visited the plant in 1979 to see the scrubbers in action


Cane Run Unit 7

  • Net generating capacity: 640 megawatts
  • Start-up date: 2015
  • Fuel: Natural gas
  • Kentucky’s first natural gas combined-cycle (NGCC) generating unit
  • Highly efficient; environmentally friendly