Big Rivers Electric Cooperative

Becca Schimmel

Kentucky is coal country, and is heavily reliant on the dirty fossil fuel for power. A study underway at Western Kentucky University is examining the effectiveness of a water-based clean coal solution.

The coal is treated with the solution at Big Rivers power plant in Ohio County, Kentucky. WKU partnered with Big Rivers and the state’s Cabinet for Economic Development to determine if the solution reduces carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen emissions.

Researchers at WKU are taking an enzyme from a mushroom and growing it in water. That solution is then sprayed on coal as it falls down a chute. The coal then sits for a few days before it’s burned.


Big Rivers Electric Corporation plans to sell wholesale power to Nebraska customers in hopes of cutting costs to current customers.

Big Rivers has lost about two-thirds of its revenue after aluminum smelters in Hawesville and Sebree stopped purchasing power.  Since then, the Kentucky Public Service Commission has twice approved rate increases.

Big Rivers Spokesman Marty Littrel says revenue from Nebraska contracts will help pay a portion of Big River’s fixed operating costs.

“The benefit to west Kentucky is the fact that we have been able to land a deal that we anticipate – we’re not sure, it’s still early – but we think it’s projected to provide our members, which again are the consumers, a $65 million benefit over the life of the agreement," explained Littrel.

Big Rivers has around 114,000 Kentucky customers. The company will begin selling wholesale power to around 11,000 Nebraska customers in 2018.

Preliminary findings from a study commissioned by lawmakers to help find a solution to a rate dispute between two western Kentucky aluminum smelters and a regional utility painted a grim outlook.

A western Kentucky utility says it’s withdrawing a pollution-control plan after an E.P.A rule was struck down in court this week. The Henderson-based Big Rivers Electric Cooperative says it will save customers about $225 million  by dropping the plan.