SWEPCO starts operation of Ark. coal plant

Associated Press

FULTON, Ark. (AP) -- Southwestern Electric Power Co. has begun producing electricity at its $1.8 billion coal-fired plant in southwest Arkansas, a triumph for the company over environmental groups that tried to block its operation.

SWEPCO didn't give advance notice that the plant would start commercial operation on Thursday, but spokesman Scott McCloud said that's nothing unusual. A ceremony is planned for April.

The 600-megawatt plant started supplying electricity to the regional electric grid just after noon Thursday.

Owners of land in the area and environmental groups sued to block the plant's operation but the lawsuits were withdrawn late last year after SWEPCO made some concessions to the groups, including closure of a coal-fired plant in Texas by the end of 2016.

SWEPCO, unit of American Electric Power Co., owns 73 percent of the plant.