E.W. Brown Generating Station

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E.W. Brown Generating Station is an operating power station of at least 1445-megawatts (MW) in Burgin, Mercer, Kentucky, United States with multiple units, some of which are not currently operating.


Table 1: Project-level location details

Plant name Location Coordinates (WGS 84)
E.W. Brown Generating Station Burgin, Mercer, Kentucky, United States 37.788331, -84.713531 (exact)

The map below shows the exact location of the power station.

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Unit-level coordinates (WGS 84):

  • Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3: 37.788331, -84.713531
  • Unit 10, Unit 11, Unit 5, Unit 6, Unit 7, Unit 8, Unit 9, Unit CC1: 37.78831, -84.71257

Project Details

Table 2: Unit-level details

Unit name Status Fuel(s) Capacity (MW) Technology CHP Start year Retired year
Unit 1 retired coal - bituminous 113.6 subcritical 1957 2019
Unit 10 operating[1] fossil gas - natural gas, fossil liquids - fuel oil[2] 126[1] gas turbine[1] 1995[1]
Unit 11 operating[1] fossil gas - natural gas, fossil liquids - fuel oil[2] 126[1] gas turbine[1] 1996[1]
Unit 2 retired coal - bituminous 179.5 subcritical 1963 2019
Unit 3 operating coal - bituminous 464 subcritical 1971 2028
Unit 5 operating[1] fossil gas - natural gas[1] 123[1] gas turbine[1] 2001[1]
Unit 6 operating[1] fossil gas - natural gas[1] 177[1] gas turbine[1] 1999[1]
Unit 7 operating[1] fossil gas - natural gas[1] 177[1] gas turbine[1] 1999[1]
Unit 8 operating[1] fossil gas - natural gas, fossil liquids - fuel oil[2] 126[1] gas turbine[1] 1995[1]
Unit 9 operating[1] fossil gas - natural gas, fossil liquids - fuel oil[2] 126[1] gas turbine[1] 1994[1]
Unit CC1 pre-permit[3] fossil gas - natural gas[4] 621[4] combined cycle[4] 2028[3]

CHP is an abbreviation for Combined Heat and Power. It is a technology that produces electricity and thermal energy at high efficiencies. Coal units track this information in the Captive Use section when known.

Table 3: Unit-level ownership and operator details

Unit name Owner
Unit 1 Kentucky Utilities Co [100.0%]
Unit 10 Kentucky Utilities Co [100.0%]
Unit 11 Kentucky Utilities Co [100.0%]
Unit 2 Kentucky Utilities Co [100.0%]
Unit 3 Kentucky Utilities Co [100.0%]
Unit 5 Kentucky Utilities Co [100.0%]
Unit 6 Kentucky Utilities Co [100.0%]
Unit 7 Kentucky Utilities Co [100.0%]
Unit 8 Kentucky Utilities Co [100.0%]
Unit 9 Kentucky Utilities Co [100.0%]
Unit CC1 Kentucky Utilities Co [100.0%]

Unit Retirements

As of 2017, Units 1-2 were retired in February 2019, while Unit 3 (464 MW) would continue operating.[5] Units 1 and 2 retired in February 2019 as expected.[6]

As of 2021, Unit 3 was expected to retire by 2028.[7]

In July 2023, Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities (LGE/KU) requested approval from the utilities regulator to close four coal units, including E.W. Brown Unit 3, Ghent Generating Station Unit 2, and Mill Creek Station Units 1 and 2. LGE/KU proposed retiring these units between 2024 and 2027, replacing them and other aging generating systems with fossil gas combined cycle units, solar and battery storage facilities, as well as solar power purchase agreements.[8]

Natural Gas Units

The E.W. Brown Generating Complex also has 7 natural gas units with a total capacity of 908.8 MW and a 10 MW solar system.[9] In December 2022, Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities companies announced that they plan to retire nearly a third of the capacity of their aging generation fleet by 2028 and build two natural gas plants, including one 621 MW combined-cycle unit at the E.W. Brown Generating Station. As of June 2023, the company is seeking approval from the Kentucky Public Service Commission, which is expected to be received by Oct. 1, 2023[10].

Kentucky Utilities Company Clean Air Act Settlement

On February 3, 2009 the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. EPA announced that Kentucky Utilities Company (KU) agreed to pay a $1.4 million civil penalty and spend approximately $135 million on pollution controls. The settlement is a result of alleged New Source Review requirements of the Clean Air Act violations.

In March 2007, the EPA filed a complaint that KU modified its largest coal-fired generating unit at their E.W. Brown Generating Station without installing required pollution controls. The EPA noted that the "unit has been operating since 1971, and the modifications made in 1997 allowed the unit to increase the amount of coal it burned and increase the amount and rate of emissions for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter. The government discovered the violations through an information request submitted to KU."

In the settlement KU agreed to install new pollution control equipment on the E.W. Brown Generating Station that will effectively reduce combined emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by more than 31,000 tons per year. Particulate matter emissions will also be reduced through new pollution controls by approximately 1,000 tons per year. An additional $3 million will be spent on projects to mitigate passed alleged emissions violations.[11]

KU will be installing three scrubbers to reduce SO2 pollution, a contributor to acid rain, at three of its coal-fired units by 2020.[12]

2022 winter blackouts

In January 2023, the CEO of Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities (LGE/KU) blamed blackouts on December 23, 2022, on a frozen gas pipeline. The blackouts affected 35,000 customers and the utility shed 317 MW in load to stabilize the system. The CEO’s comments were cited by Republican legislators the following month before they adopted Senate Bill 4, which made it harder for utilities to retire coal and other fossil fuel power plants. In August 2023, however, the Kentucky Public Service Commission held a hearing in which LGE/KU revealed that 800 MW of coal capacity was offline during the outage. At E.W. Brown Generating Station, 62 MW of coal-fired capacity was offline due to instrumentation problems that the utility claimed were not weather-related. Also offline were 639 MW at Trimble County power station and 121 MW at Mill Creek Station.[13]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 3,978,892 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 45,191 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 6,683 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 161 lb.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the E.W. Brown Generating Station

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.[14] The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma-related episodes and asthma-related emergency room visits, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, peneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal-fired power plants. Fine particle pollution is formed from a combination of soot, acid droplets, and heavy metals formed from sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and soot. Among those particles, the most dangerous are the smallest (smaller than 2.5 microns), 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. 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.

The table below estimates the death and illness attributable to the E.W. Brown Generating Station. 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.[15]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the E.W. Brown Generating Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 68 $500,000
Heart attacks 100 $11,000,000
Asthma attacks 1,100 $57,000
Hospital admissions 50 $1,200,000
Chronic bronchitis 41 $18,000,000
Asthma ER visits 61 $23,000

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

E.W. Brown ranked 50th 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.[16] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[17]

E.W. Brown Generating Station ranked number 50 on the list, with 637,230 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[16]

"High Hazard" Surface Impoundments

Two of E.W. Brown's coal ash surface impoundments are on the EPA's official June 2009 list of Coal Combustion Residue (CCR) Surface Impoundments with High Hazard Potential Ratings. The rating applies to sites at which a dam failure would most likely cause loss of human life, but does not assess of the likelihood of such an event.[18]

Citizen groups

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 https://web.archive.org/web/20200612191408/https://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/eia860m/archive/xls/november_generator2019.xlsx. Archived from the original on 12 June 2020. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 https://web.archive.org/web/20211122185052/https://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/eia860m/archive/xls/july_generator2021.xlsx. Archived from the original on 22 November 2021. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 https://web.archive.org/web/20230407223456/http://www.lge-ku.com/future. Archived from the original on 07 April 2023. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |archive-date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 https://web.archive.org/web/20230321143518/https://lge-ku.com/newsroom/press-releases/2022/12/15/nearly-one-third-lge-and-kus-aging-generation-be-retired-2028. Archived from the original on 21 March 2023. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. James Bruggers, "LG&E and KU credits LED lights as it announces plans to shut down two coal-burning units," Louisville Courier Journal, Nov. 14, 2017
  6. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named eiaeightsixty
  7. "PPL Corp. utilities eye retirement of 3 Ky. coal units, seek replacement power," S&P Global, January 11, 2021
  8. "PSC to retire several coal, natural gas plants," Middlesboro News, July 24, 2023
  9. "EIA 860" EIA.gov, EIA860 2018, accessed June 2020.
  10. "Nearly one-third of LG&E and KU's aging generation to be retired by 2028". LG&E KU. December 15, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. "Coal-fired Power Plant to Spend More than $135 Million to Settle Clean Air Violations," U.S. EPA, February 3, 2009
  12. "Clear Skies in Kentucky," U.S. EPA, accessed November, 6 2009
  13. "Coal-fired power failures during winter storm come to light months later," Kentucky Lantern, September 8, 2023
  14. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  15. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  16. 16.0 16.1 Sue Sturgis, "Coal's ticking timebomb: Could disaster strike a coal ash dump near you?," Institute for Southern Studies, January 4, 2009.
  17. TRI Explorer, EPA, accessed January 2009.
  18. Coal waste

Additional data

To access additional data, including interactive maps of the power stations, downloadable datases, and summary data, please visit the Global Coal Plant Tracker and the Global Oil and Gas Plant Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.