The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets health-based standards, which are reviewed every five years, under the Clean Air Act Rules that apply to all emission sources in communities across the country. These are sources we see in our communities everyday, like vehicles, businesses and power plants.
The utility industry is one of the most regulated industries in the nation. Since 2000, there have been more than 40 new environmental regulations released that impact the utility industry.
At LG&E and KU, we are continually investing in our facilities to ensure our company complies with local, state and federal environmental regulations. This includes monitoring, measuring and reporting our facilities’ performances to the appropriate regulatory agencies.
Over the years, we have invested in projects that further reduced emissions and improved operations at our coal-fired power plants, and in 2011, LG&E and KU filed with the Kentucky Public Service Commission aggressive, comprehensive environmental plans to meet the new and most recent revised regulations.
After years of planning, preparation, contracting and execution, the company has now put into operation what became the largest construction era in the company’s history.
While LG&E and KU power plant emissions have been reduced over the years, the company’s long-term plans and new emissions controls are even more efficient. As a result, from 1998 to 2017 across the company’s power plant fleet, projected rates of sulfur dioxide emissions have decreased by 93 percent; nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 percent; and particulate matter decreased by 80 percent. Since 2000 when the utility industry began reporting mercury emissions, these rates decreased by 90 percent. The utilities’ actions combined will also decrease long-term carbon dioxide emissions.
About the projects
Plans included constructing additional environmental controls at the company's E.W. Brown, Ghent, Mill Creek and Trimble County power plants to further reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, as well as installing state-of-the-art technology to control mercury and fine particulates.
Keeping close watch on budgets and schedules throughout the process, the projects met all of their performance guarantees while coming in about $300 million under the original estimates.
As many as 4,000 construction personnel worked on the projects during any typical week, around the clock, putting in more than 14 million man-hours in total. In some instances, older structures were first demolished to make room for the new control equipment.
These efforts were accomplished with an outstanding overall safety incident rate just below 0.7, compared to the industry average for this type of work at 3.9.
Incredibly, throughout the entire construction period, each plant continued operating around the clock to generate the instantaneous electricity needed to power LG&E and KU customers’ homes and businesses.
This achievement was accomplished while also upgrading the Ohio Falls hydroelectric plant, and executing the 640-megawatt natural gas combined-cycle unit known as Cane Run 7 and other large-scale projects across its plants.
As part of company plans, LG&E and KU also retired 800 megawatts of coal-fired generation from its Cane Run, Tyrone and Green River power plants.