Elmer Smith Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Elmer Smith Station was a 445.3-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station owned and operated by the City of Owensboro, Kentucky.


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Plant Data

  • Owner: Owensboro Municipal Utilities
  • Parent Entity: City of Owensboro, Kentucky
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 445.3 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 1: 163.2 MW (1964), Unit 2: 282.1 MW (1974)
  • Location: 4301 U.S. 60 East, Owensboro, KY 42303
  • GPS Coordinates: 37.794167, -87.060833
  • Technology: Subcritical
  • Coal type: Bituminous
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: Pride Mine (Western Kentucky Consolidated Recources), Joe's Run (West Ky Minerals), Wild Boar Mine (Peabody), Hilsmeyer Mine (Sun Energy)[1]
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements: Unit 1 was idled permanently in May 2019 and officialy retired in June 2020, unit 2 officialy retired in June 2020.[2][3]

Unit Retirements

In March 2017 it was reported that Unit 1 was planned for retirement in 2019, and unit 2 in 2023.[4]

In June 2018 the Owensboro Municipal Utility Commission said it would retire both units in 2020.[5]

Unit 1 was idled permanently in May 2019.[2] Unit 2 retired on May 29, 2020.[3]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 2,846,615 tons [6]
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 2,525 tons [7]
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 7,045 tons [8]
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 59 lb. [9]

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the Elmer Smith 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.[10] 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 Elmer Smith 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.[11]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the Elmer Smith Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 10 $75,000
Heart attacks 16 $1,700,000
Asthma attacks 170 $9,000
Hospital admissions 7 $170,000
Chronic bronchitis 6 $2,800,000
Asthma ER visits 11 $4,000

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

Toxic Waste Data [12]

  • Arsenic Waste: 16,276 pounds
    • Air Release: 448 pounds
    • Water Release (Ohio River): 600 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill): 15,228 pounds
  • Chromium Waste: 33,490 pounds
    • Air Release: 284 pounds
    • Water Release (Ohio River): 4,804 pounds
    • Land Release (Landfill): 28,402 pounds
  • Dioxin Waste: 1.55 grams
    • Air Release: 1.55 grams
  • Lead Waste: 14,623 pounds
    • Air Release: 459.3 pounds
    • Water Release (Ohio River): 1,200.9 pounds
    • Land Release: 12,962.8 pounds
  • Nickel Waste: 27,423 pounds
    • Air Release: 306 pounds
    • Water Release (Ohio River): 1,201 pounds
    • Land Release: 25,916 pounds
  • Total Land Release: 82,508.8 pounds
  • Total Air Release: 1,497.3 pounds
  • Total Water Release (Ohio River): 7,805.9 pounds

Litigation and Controversy

  • October 17, 1989
    • Elmer Smith plant is given a 5-star rating by Research Data International which cited the plant’s ability to compete in future deregulated markets, current performance rates, and sulfur dioxide emissions rates.
  • August 17, 2007
    • The Environmental Integrity Protection ranked the Elmer Smith plant as the 9th dirtiest in CO2 emissions per megawatt hour and 12th in NOX.[13]

Citizen groups

Articles and Resources


  1. "EIA 923 February 2020" EIA 923 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Wilkins, Don (November 5, 2019). "OMU board hears plan for decommissioning coal-fired power plant". Messenger Inquirer.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "OMU ends coal-fired electricity production" 14news.com, May 29, 2020.
  5. "Market Forces Drive Another Kentucky Coal Power Plant To Retire," WFPL, June 26, 2018
  6. "Carbon Monitoring For Action: Elmer Smith Plant Data". The Center for Global Development.
  7. "Facility Criteria Air Pollutants: Elmer Smith Facility Data". Environmental Protection Agency.
  8. "Facility Criteria Air Pollutants: Elmer Smith Facility Data". Environmental Protection Agency.
  9. "Toxic Release Inventory: Elmer Smith Plant". Environmental Protection Agency. October 27, 2007.
  10. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  11. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  12. "Toxic Release Inventory: Elmer Smith Plant". Environmental Protection Agency. October 27, 2007.
  13. "Dirty Kilowatts". Environmental Integrity Project. July 2007.

External resources

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