Honoring The Past
Construction of Pirkey Power Plant in the early 1980s.
AEP’s Pirkey Power Plant near Hallsville, Texas, retired in spring 2023 after 38 years of operation.
Pirkey began commercial operation on a snowy Jan. 3, 1985. The 675-megawatt (MW) plant was named in honor of the late Henry W. Pirkey, Jr., who served as president of AEP’s Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) subsidiary from 1965-1972. Pirkey was SWEPCO’s first lignite-fired power plant.
|SWEPCO announces plans to build Pirkey
|Dec. 5, 1984
|Pirkey comes online for the first time
|Jan. 3, 1985
|Commercial operation begins
|Oct. 15- Nov. 18, 2011
|Replacement of two 10,000 - horsepower induced draft fans occurs under budget and ahead of schedule
|Pirkey unveils new Environmental Park
|Pirkey hosts initial "Fishing for the Future" event
|Pirkey named "Plant of the Year" Runner Up in Navigant Consulting's Generation Knowledge Service Plant Operational Excellence Awards for large plants
Leading up to Pirkey's retirement, employees paid tribute to the plant's legacy of powering the local economy and serving customers. Pirkey hosted a retirement luncheon in March 2023 to celebrate its history and mark the end of an era.
"Pirkey’s retirement truly is the end of an era being the only lignite - fired unit in the AEP fleet. Pirkey has always been a symbol of excellence, primarily driven by the most amazing group of individuals I have had the pleasure to call my friends and colleagues, as well as a long line of well-respected leaders. Pirkey’s legacy will continue for many years to come based on employee transitions throughout the SWEPCO and AEP organization."
Joel T. Endsley, former Pirkey plant manager
Transitioning to the Future
When the 2023 retirement of AEP’s Pirkey Plant was announced in 2020, work began quickly to help employees and the local community transition to the future. AEP, our Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) subsidiary and the Pirkey Plant near Hallsville, Texas, joined forces to develop a Just Transition model for plant retirements based on a commitment to do the right thing for affected communities.
Impacts And Priorities
This effort involved identifying impacts and priorities associated with the plant’s closure:
|Tax revenue: Paid for public services (i.e. local roads, street lights, parks, libraries, schools).
|Tax base replacement
|School funding: The plant’s tax revenues provided $2 million/year for the Marshall Independent School District and $300,000/year for the Hallsville Independent School District.
|Address school funding loss
|Jobs: Included 106 plant employees and 162 workers at the affiliated Sabine Mine, for which Pirkey served as the only customer.
|Site features: The plant’s environmental park and adjoining man-made lake had become a recreational hotspot for the community.
Partnership With The Community
SWEPCO and Pirkey Plant partnered with the Just Transition Fund, which served as third-party facilitators of the newly created Pirkey Transition Task Force. The task force comprised more than two dozen local and regional leaders, civic organizations, school districts, and business owners.
The task force met every two weeks to gather data, identify priorities, conduct community outreach and develop a high-level action plan. The Just Transition Fund’s facilitation of the task force allowed SWEPCO and the Pirkey Plant to be active participants, rather than leading the discussion.
This collaboration was among the first of its kind in the energy industry.
What is the Just Transition Fund?
As the only national philanthropic initiative focused solely on coal community transition, the Just Transition Fund awards grants, provides direct transition planning and support, and creates and curates resources for the field in addition to holding convenings. Learn how other communities are successfully transitioning at justtransitionfund.org/overview.
Hear from Russell Pitts, who transitioned from the Pirkey Plant to AEP’s North Central Wind Energy Facilities.
Partnership With Employees
An internal workforce transition team provided employees with one-on-one support, job fairs, training opportunities, preferential treatment to be considered for internal job openings, and exposure to other parts of AEP’s business. About 90 percent of employees transitioned to a new job within AEP or were able to retire, which demonstrates AEP’s commitment to a fair and equitable transition.
AEP's experience at Pirkey Plant serves as a model to support employees and coal plant communities as we prepare to retire several additional plants by 2030. We are taking the lessons learned from the Pirkey Plant experience to develop a set of Just Transition principles and metrics to measure our progress and success.
Below is a testimonial from Rush Harris, executive director of the Marshall Economic Development Corporation:
“Thank you, AEP, for the advance notice and support. Thank you, (Just Transition Fund), for guiding our community in the right direction while promoting local human capital and local decisions. Thank you to our community, for putting something collectively bigger than separate interests, front and center.”
--Rush Harris, Marshall Economic Development CorporationRead full testimonial