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AEP plans to shut down Conesville coal plant in Ohio by 2020

American Electric Power Co. Inc. said Oct. 5 that it notified employees at its 1,530-MW Conesville coal plant in Coshocton County, Ohio, of plans to shut down the facility by May 31, 2020.

"There are market conditions that could result in two of the generating units at Conesville (Units 5 and 6) closing as soon as May 2019," AEP spokeswoman Melissa McHenry said in an email. "AEP had previously announced that it would close those two units in 2022."

McHenry said the company expects the other operating unit at the plant, unit 4, to remain in service until May 2020.

"AEP has been exiting the competitive generation business in Ohio for several years," McHenry said. "The company's long-term strategy is focused on its regulated businesses and investment in infrastructure and the energy innovations. AEP unsuccessfully sought a buyer for Conesville Plant for a number of years, while continuing to maintain the plant. The costs of keeping the plant operational and the outcomes of recent competitive generation auctions resulted in the decision to permanently close the entire plant by 2020."

Westmoreland Coal Co., which has struggled financially and recently received an extension on a restructuring agreement, is the primary coal supplier for the plant. Conesville took deliveries of 1.7 million tons of coal from two Westmoreland mines in Ohio in 2017, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

AEP earlier this year declined Westmoreland's bid to supply coal to units at the Conesville power plant after the current contract expires Dec. 31. AEP subsidiary AEP Generation Resources own about 92% of the plant, while AES Corp. subsidiary AES Ohio Generation LLC owns the remaining stake.