EKPC is investing nearly $1.75 billion to deploy clean-coal technology in its newest fleet of coal-fueled generating units. In addition, the cooperative is investing about $600 million to install equipment that will reduce emissions from existing plants.
"As a result of our efforts, plant emissions are plummeting while EKPC continues to meet Kentuckians' growing demand for electricity," Marshal said.
The cooperative is supporting research into capturing carbon from plant emissions and storing, or "sequestering," it. But, Marshall said, the technology remains in the developmental stages.
"East Kentucky Power Cooperative has been a leader in using clean-coal technology in its power plants," he said. "Likewise, we will be a leader in using technology to capture and sequester carbon once that technology is developed and ready."
For the past several months, East Kentucky Power has remained in the sights of environmental groups that have criticized the cooperative for not placing more emphasis on renewable energy programs.
The Cumberland Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Kentucky Environmental Foundation and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth issued a 46-page report in February which suggests implementing efficiency and renewable energy programs to offset East Kentucky Power's need for a new coal-burning generating unit at Trapp.
Later in March, the Sierra Club, Kentucky Environmental Foundation and the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit against the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) in opposition to the coal-fired unit. The three groups are arguing that RUS failed to properly assess the environmental impact of the proposed unit and 36 miles of transmission lines to deliver the power. RUS helps provide financing for capital projects.
Officials from East Kentucky said Thursday that EKPC and its member cooperatives are working to promote efficiency and conservation solutions that work for Kentucky. As an example, they cited energy audits that are offered by most member cooperatives, as well as programs such as Button-Up, Tune-Up and Touchstone Energy Home to improve residential efficiency.
EKPC and its member cooperatives are rolling out a load management program that will provide incentives for homeowners to install switches on air-conditioners and/or water heaters, allowing the cooperative to manage demand during peak-use periods, according to the cooperative.
Officials also said EKPC is diversifying its generating portfolio, soliciting proposals for up to 300 megawatts of renewable power and is a charter member of the National Renewable Cooperative Organization.
"East Kentucky Power Cooperative generates more renewable energy than any other utility in Kentucky," Marshall said. "We are proud of the fact that nearly 8 percent of our generating capacity comes from renewable resources."
Marshall said the cooperative continues to explore partnerships to meet growing demand and to share risks.