AEP spokesman Jeff Rennie confirmed that the electric company plans to spend the next six months working with General Electric and Bechtel Corp. to lower the projected costs of construction on plants it plans to build in the two counties.
The Great Bend plant proposed for a 1,600-acre site in Lebanon Township, and another like it to be built in Mason County, W.Va., were first expected to cost $1.3 billion each. Rennie said AEP has not announced the latest cost projection, but confirmed that the rising cost of labor and building materials put the estimated cost over that original estimate.
AEP was waiting for the Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) to be completed before taking the second phase of cost recovery to the Ohio Pubilc Utilities Commission of Ohio. That will be delayed approximately six months, Rennie said Friday, but that delay is not expected to affect the ultimate construction schedules.
A decision on cost recovery is expected sometime this year. AEP is now collecting costs for the FEED and site preparation work from AEP-Ohio customers.
The Ohio Power Siting Board, which will ultimately determine whether AEP may construct the plant on its Meigs County site, conducted a public hearing on AEP's application in December at Meigs High School. An evidentiary hearing was scheduled for Dec. 14, but was continued to Jan. 30 to allow AEP to resolve issues the OPSB has with the AEP application.
Once the issues are resolved and the secondary hearing completed, the OPSB has “an undetermined amount of time” to make a decision on siting the proposed plant, Rennie said.
Commercial operation of the plant is expected to begin in 2012 if the PUCO grants cost recovery, Rennie said last month.