Clinch River Plant

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Clinch River Plant is a 475.0-megawatt (MW) natural gas-fired power station owned and operated by American Electric Power near Cleveland, Virginia.


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Plant Data

  • Owner: Appalachian Power Company
  • Parent: American Electric Power
  • Location: Rte. 664 & Rte. 665, Cleveland, VA 24225
  • Coordinates: 36.932778, -82.198611
  • Gross generating capacity (operating): 475 MW
    • Unit 1: natural gas[1] steam turbine[1] 237.5 MW[1] (start-up in 2016)[1][2]
    • Unit 2: natural gas[1] stream turbine[1] 237.5 MW[1] (start-up in 2016)[1][2]
  • Gross generating capacity (retired): 712.5 MW
    • Unit 1: coal, steam turbine 237.5 MW (start-up in 1958, retired in 2016)[3][2]
    • Unit 2: coal, stream turbine 237.5 MW (start-up in 1958, retired in 2016)[3][2]
    • Unit 3: coal, 237.5 MW (start-up in 1961, retired in 2015)[4]
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source:
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Conversions: Units 1-2 are converted to natural gas by 2017.[3]
  • Unit Retirements: Unit 3 retired in 2015[4]

Proposed coal plant closure

On June 9, 2011, AEP announced that, based on impending EPA regulations as proposed, AEP’s compliance plan would retire nearly 6,000 megawatts (MW) of coal-fueled power generation; upgrade or install new advanced emissions reduction equipment on another 10,100 MW; refuel 1,070 MW of coal generation as 932 MW of natural gas capacity; and build 1,220 MW of natural gas-fueled generation. The cost of AEP’s compliance plan could range from $6 billion to $8 billion in capital investment through the end of the decade. AEP’s current plan for compliance with the rules as proposed includes permanently retiring five of its coal-fueled power plants.[5]

In addition, six other plants which will reduce their power output:[6]

  • Big Sandy Plant, Louisa, Ky. - Units 1 and 2 (1,078 MW) retired by Dec. 31, 2014; Big Sandy Unit 1 would be rebuilt as a 640-MW natural gas plant by Dec. 31, 2015;
  • Clinch River Plant, Cleveland, Va. - Unit 3 (235 MW) retired by Dec. 31, 2014; Units 1 and 2 (470 MW total) would be refueled with natural gas with a capacity of 422 MW;
  • Conesville Power Plant, Conesville, Ohio - Unit 3 (165 MW) retired by Dec. 31, 2012; Units 5 and 6 (800 MW total) would continue operating with retrofits;
  • Muskingum River Plant, Beverly, Ohio - Units 1-4 (840 MW) retired by Dec. 31, 2014; Muskingum River Unit 5 (600 MW) may be refueled with natural gas with a capacity of 510 MW by Dec. 31, 2014, depending on regulatory treatment in Ohio;
  • Tanners Creek Plant, Lawrenceburg, Indiana - Units 1, 2 and 3 (495 MW) retired by Dec. 31, 2014; Unit 4 (500 MW) would continue to operate with retrofits; and
  • Welsh Power Plant, Pittsburg, Texas - Unit 2 (528 MW) retired by Dec. 31, 2014; Units 1 and 3 (1,056 MW) would continue to operate with retrofits.

Unit 3 (235 MW) was shut down in May 2015.[4]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 3,794,172 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 27,134 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 7,971 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 146 lb.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Clinch River Plant

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[7] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[8]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Clinch River Plant

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 69 $510,000,000
Heart attacks 100 $11,000,000
Asthma attacks 1,100 $57,000
Hospital admissions 51 $1,200,000
Chronic bronchitis 42 $18,000,000
Asthma ER visits 59 $22,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

Coal Ash Waste and Water Contamination

In August 2010 a study released by the Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice reported that Virginia, along with 34 states, had significant groundwater contamination from coal ash that was not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report, in an attempt to pressure the EPA to regulate coal ash, noted that most states do not monitor drinking water contamination levels near waste disposal sites.[9] The report mentioned Virginia's Clinch River Plant and Glen Lyn Plant as two sites that have groundwater contamination due to coal ash waste.[10]

Coal Waste Sites

Waste spills

In 1967, 130 million gallons of coal ash slurry from the Clinch River Power Plant spilled into the nearby Dumps Creek, part of the Clinch River. In 1970, a cooling tower malfunctioned, gushing sulfuric acid into the river.[11]


Earth First! and Rising Tide activists blockade a bridge leading to the Clinch River power plant on July 10, 2006.

On July 10, 2006, 75 Earth First! and Rising Tide activists blockaded an access bridge leading to the Clinch River Plant. Several people stretched a rope across the bridge and suspended themselves off the bridge's edge; others waved a coal truck onto the bridge, blockaded it, deflated its tires, and locked themselves to the truck. The protestors demanded that Clinch River and other outdated coal plants be shut down, and that mountaintop removal coal mining be ended. After several hours in which coal trucks were unable to get into the plant, police agreed to make no arrests if the activists would dismantle their blockades.[12][13]

Citizen groups

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 "Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory (based on Form EIA-860M as a supplement to Form EIA-860) - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)". Retrieved 2022-12-14.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Waitkus, Dave (2015-06-18). "Clinch River Plant receives new life as a natural gas plant".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Clinch River Plant receives new life as a natural gas plant," AEP, accessed Dec 2016
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "American Electric Power stops generation at 10 coal-fired plants," Platts, 1 June 2015
  5. "AEP would shutter 5 coal plants to meet EPA rules" Coal Tattoo, June 9, 2011.
  6. "Return to News AEP Shutting 3 of 4 Units At Tanners Creek" Eagle Country Online, June 10, 2011.
  7. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  8. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  9. "Study of coal ash sites finds extensive water contamination" Renee Schoff, Miami Herald, August 26, 2010.
  10. "Enviro groups: ND, SD coal ash polluting water" Associated Press, August 24, 2010.
  11. Sierra Crane-Murdoch, "A Desperate Clinch: Coal Production Confronts Water Scarcity" Circle of Blue, August 3, 2010.
  12. Earth First! Blockades Power Plant, Asheville Global Report, July 26, 2007.
  13. Resisting King Coal, Rising Tide website, July 11, 2006.

Related articles

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