Columbus Southern Power

From Global Energy Monitor

Columbus Southern Power Company is an American Electric Power (AEP) electric utility subsidiary, under AEP Ohio. Founded in 1937, the utility transmits and distributes electricity to 749,000 customers in central and southern Ohio, including the capital city of Columbus, and operates 15,520 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines with power plant interests that give it 3,200 megawatts (MW) of coal- and natural gas-fired generating capacity. It also sells bulk power to wholesale customers, such as municipal utilities and energy marketers.[1] The company was acquired by AEP in 1980.[2]

Existing Coal Plants

Plant State Year(s) Built Capacity
Picway Power Plant OH 1955 106 MW
Conesville Power Plant OH 1962, 1973, 1976, 1978 1,891 MW

Coal waste

Conesville ranked 64th on list of most polluting power plants in terms of coal waste

In January 2009, Sue Sturgis of the Institute of Southern Studies compiled a list of the 100 most polluting coal plants in the United States in terms of coal combustion waste (CCW) stored in surface impoundments like the one involved in the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill.[3] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[4]

Conesville Power Plant ranked number 64 on the list, with 447,846 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[3]

Study finds dangerous level of hexavalent chromium at Conesville waste site

A report released by EarthJustice and the Sierra Club in early February 2011 stated that there are many health threats associated with a toxic cancer-causing chemical found in coal ash waste called hexavalent chromium. The report specifically cited 29 sites in 17 states where the contamination was found. The information was gathered from existing EPA data on coal ash and included locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virgina and Wisconsin. In Ohio, the Conesville Power Plant in Coshocon County and Industrial Excess Landfill in Uniontown were reported as having high levels of chromium seeping into groundwater.[5]

According to the report, the Conesville Power Plant coal ash site is a landfill. Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) was reported at the site at 100 ppb (parts per billion) - 5,000 times the proposed California drinking water goals and above the federal drinking water standard.[5][6][7][8][9]

As a press release about the report read:

Hexavalent chromium first made headlines after Erin Brockovich sued Pacific Gas & Electric because of poisoned drinking water from hexavalent chromium. Now new information indicates that the chemical has readily leaked from coal ash sites across the U.S. This is likely the tip of the iceberg because most coal ash dump sites are not adequately monitored.[10]

According to the report, the electric power industry is the leading source of chromium and chromium compounds released into the environment, representing 24 percent of releases by all industries in 2009.[5]

Proposed Coal Plants

In 2005 AEP filed an air permit application with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in October 2006 for a proposed 629 megawatt (MW) Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plant in Meigs County, Ohio, the Great Bend IGCC. The Great Bend power plant is one of two IGCC power plants proposed by AEP in the Ohio/West Virginia region (the other is Mountaineer, in Mason County, West Virginia), and the two plants will be located within thirty miles of each other.[11] The Great Bend plant would be operated by Columbus Southern Power and AEP Ohio.

In April 2006, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved AEP’s request to charge its customers for $23 million in pre-construction costs.[11] In Aug. 2006, this decision was challenged in the Ohio Supreme Court by the Ohio Consumers' Counsel and Industrial Energy Users-Ohio; this lawsuit could delay the projected in-service date of the plant by up to seven years. Oral arguments in the case were heard on Oct. 9, 2007.[12] In April 2007, the Ohio Siting Board approved the construction of the plant.[13]

In February 2009, AEP announced that construction of the plant would be placed on temporary hold due to economic conditions. An AEP executive indicated that although the corporation will not "proceed on construction in the near future", they are "still very interested in the project".[14]

Contact Information

Columbus Southern Power Company
1 Riverside Plz
Columbus, Ohio 43215-2355

Articles and Resources


  1. "Columbus Southern Power Company Description" Hoover's Website, August 2009.
  2. "AEP History" AEP Website, August 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Sue Sturgis, "Coal's ticking timebomb: Could disaster strike a coal ash dump near you?," Institute for Southern Studies, January 4, 2009.
  4. TRI Explorer, EPA, accessed January 2009.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash" Earthjustice & Sierra Club, February 1, 2011.
  6. "Damage Case Report for Coal Combustion Wastes," August 2008
  7. U.S. EPA Proposed Coal Ash Rule, 75 Fed. Reg. 35128
  8. EarthJustice, Environmental Integrity Project, and Sierra Club, "In Harm's Way: Lack of Federal Coal Ash Regulations Endangers Americans and their Environment," August 2010
  9. EarthJustice and Environmental Integrity Project, "Out of Control: Mounting Damages from Coal Ash Waste Sites," May 2010
  10. "Coal ash waste tied to cancer-causing chemicals in water supplies" Alicia Bayer,, February 1, 2011.
  11. 11.0 11.1 AEP and IGCC, AEP Ohio corporate website, accessed January 2008.
  12. Oral Argument Video Archives: October 9, 2007, The Supreme Court of Ohio website.
  13. "Ohio Approves AEP's Great Bend IGCC Site Plan", Gasification News, May 16, 2007. (This is an abbreviated version of the article; access to the full article requires registration.)
  14. "AEP: Clean coal plant on hold", Pomeroy Daily Sentinel, February 7, 2009.

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