Seismic survey to take place near Mountaineer Plant; drilling at plant will begin soon

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NEW HAVEN, W.Va. - As part of the carbon sequestration research project now going on at Mountaineer Plant in Mason County, seismic surveying will be done in a five- to 10-mile radius of the plant over the next several weeks. At the same time, drilling of a deep borehole on Mountaineer Plant property will begin, according to Charlie Powell, Mountaineer general plant manager.

Appalachian Geophysical Services will conduct the seismic survey. A crew will place sensitive microphones on the ground, mostly along state and county roads, and listen to the echoing vibrations created by a specially equipped “thumper” truck. Some of the vibrations may also be created by detonating very small explosive charges in shallow holes drilled along the survey routes. The vibrations may be noticed nearby, but no disruption to daily life is anticipated.

Late this month, drilling will begin to create a 10,000-foot borehole on Mountaineer Plant property. In this part of the research study, underground rock layers will be evaluated. Drilling and testing will continue for several weeks.

The research underway is a $4.2 million carbon sequestration research project funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and led by Battelle. Capturing and disposing of carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels is one of a number of climate change mitigation technologies currently being studied by scientists worldwide. The goal is to reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions believed to contribute to global climate change.

Mountaineer Plant was chosen as the test site for the project in part due to its location in the Ohio River Valley area, which is thought to be an ideal candidate for carbon capture and disposal because of the nature of the geology of the region. The Ohio River Valley also is home to many fossil fuel-fired electricity generation plants that power the U.S. economy. If the concept proves feasible, it could offer a way for many utilities and other industrial facilities located in Ohio, West Virginia and many other states in the country to reduce carbon emissions.

The Battelle study will determine whether the geology near the Mountaineer Plant is suitable for injection of carbon dioxide deep into the earth, where it will be absorbed and permanently captured. The data from the seismic study and borehole will be used for simulations, risk assessment, permit applications and to design the monitoring plans for future steps in the effort, if the site proves to be geologically sound for potential carbon capture and disposal.

The study will last 18 months. No injection is planned as part of the current study and no decision will be made about possible next steps until the results of the study are carefully evaluated. Whether to proceed with carbon capture and storage will depend on a number of other technical, policy and economic factors in addition to what is learned about the suitability of the area geology. Battelle and AEP are committed to keeping the public fully informed about the results of the study.

American Electric Power owns and operates more than 42,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the United States and select international markets and is the largest electricity generator in the U.S. AEP is also one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, with almost 5 million customers linked to AEP’s 11-state electricity transmission and distribution grid. The company is based in Columbus, Ohio.
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Jeri Matheney
Corporate Communications General Manager
(304) 348-4130