A utility that serves Eastern Kentucky and burns coal to produce electricity has sold $17.6 million worth of coal it didn’t need, offering yet another example of how the relatively low cost of natural gas has undermined the region’s economy.
The coal was to be used at a power plant in West Virginia co-owned by Kentucky Power, which has 168,000 customers in 20 Eastern Kentucky counties. The plant, though, could not generate electricity as cheaply as competing facilities fueled by natural gas, according to information filed with the Kentucky Public Service Commission.
As a result, the regional power-grid manager was not ordering electricity as often from Kentucky Power’s Mitchell plant. That meant coal the company had to buy under a long-term contract was piling up.