The new president of Appalachian Power Co., Chris Beam said that the utility is not planning to build coal plants in the near future and that renewable energy sources electricity is the latest demand of potential business customers.
Chris Beam is a native of Wheeling and he understands the role of coal in the economy and culture of West Virginia. He said that the company still relies a lot on their coal-fired plants, but changes are happening on a historic level in the power industry around the globe.
Charleston Gazette-Mail was told by Beam that they know that the king in West Virginia is coal and they aren’t that naïve to it. They would continue to burn their large coal plants and would continue to burn it going forward as well.
Governor Jim Justice and Beam’s meeting was recalled by Beam as he had asked the company to start burning more coal then what was already being burnt.
Beam said that they won’t be building any more coal plants and they don’t have more coal plants either. They would definitely not build more. He said that instead of more coal plants, the company is planning to add their wind generation capacity in the south region of West Virginia.
Beam feels that this makes a whole lot of sense. There is a lot of ability of expanding the wind energy portfolio of the company in West Virginia and there is no doubt about that at all.
The company currently uses coal for about 60% of their total electricity and power generation. By the year 2020, Appalachian Power believes they can reduce this number to about half of their total power generation capacity.
Beam added that potential customers of the power company that Appalachian Power would want to lure into their state have a clear-cut requirement that they only want electricity that is generated completely from renewable sources.
Beam said that at the end of the day, the state of West Virginia doesn’t require us to use clean energy, but our customers want that. So, they want to bring in all those jobs as they are good jobs and good paying jobs as well because they would support their universities as they hire engineers from our state. The potential customers have some requirements now and the company has to be mindful of whatever the customers desire from them.
Beam took over as president of the company in the start of January. He replaced the earlier president, Charles Patton, who was now promoted as vice president of external affairs after almost six years for the parent company of Appalachian Power’s parent company, American Electric Power.
About a million customers are served by the company in South of West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee.