The controversial John W. Turk power plant in Hempstead County is now in commercial operation.

Owned by SWEPCO, a subsidiary of American Electric Power and other investors, the $1.7 billion electricity generation facility was at the center of a lengthy legal battle with environmental groups and other activists opposed to its coal requirements. In December 2011, the lawsuit was settled.

The new 600-megawatt (MW) plant requires less coal and produces fewer emissions to generate the same amount of power as existing coal units, the company has promoted.

“The Turk Plant is yet another example of AEP’s long history of advancing coal-fueled generating technologies. AEP built our nation’s first supercritical coal-fueled power plants decades ago. At Turk, we’ve deployed ultra-supercritical generating technology, and built one of the nation’s cleanest, most efficient pulverized coal generating plants,” said Nicholas K. Akins, AEP president and chief executive officer. “Turk will provide reliable, affordable power for our customers and project partners and will provide significant benefits for the area’s economy. I commend our employees and the business and community partners who helped make Turk happen.”

The plant is expected to result in 109 permanent positions and an estimated annual payroll of $9 million. It will serve retail and wholesale customers in Louisiana and Texas, and wholesale customers in Arkansas.

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