"What we wanted to do is to be very clear to the commission that conversion to natural gas was an uneconomic and very inefficient option that we would not pursue," Swepco spokesman Peter Main said Monday.
"It would create a unit that was basically a large peaking plant that would not be dispatched in the way that would serve our customers in an area that needs baseload generation," he added.
Flint Creek is a single-unit facility that burns about 2 million st of low-sulfur Powder River Basin coal annually. The plant would continue to burn PRB coal even after the scrubber and activated carbon injection equipment were installed, Main said. "It's very suitable coal for this region," he said.
Main said the controls are needed for Flint Creek to comply with new US Environmental Protection Agency rules, especially the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule and regional haze rule.
The PSC has scheduled a March 5 public hearing in Little Rock.
"We would like to hear something very soon after that," Main said. "Our original schedule had been to begin construction at the start of 2014."
Columbus, Ohio-based AEP has announced plans to retire up to 5,000 MW of older, coal-fired generating units over the next few years to comply with EPA rules. Most of that capacity is located in Ohio.