Environmental Stewardship




Kentucky-Grown Switchgrass Used As Power Plant Fuel

EKPC and its member cooperatives are part of an innovative project to study using switchgrass, which is native to Kentucky, as fuel for its power plants.

EKPC is partnering with the University of Kentucky's (UK) College of Agriculture and local farmers. The purpose is to determine if switchgrass can be a viable supplemental fuel for power plants. EKPC's fleet of power plants includes two units at Spurlock Station in Maysville that feature technology making it possible to burn switchgrass as fuel.

During EKPC's study, switchgrass and coal were burned in the unit's boiler, creating steam, which was used to turn turbine blades and generate electricity.

The test is part of an innovative project conducted by UK's College of Agriculture to determine if switchgrass can be grown economically in Kentucky. The project is being funded through a grant to the Kentucky Forage and Grassland Council from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board.

UK researchers are working with 20 farmers in northeast Kentucky to evaluate options for planting, growing, harvesting, transporting and processing the switchgrass. Each farmer manages a five-acre plot that UK forage specialists helped them establish.

The forage specialists believe that if this project is successful, switchgrass could provide a great opportunity for producers in this area to diversify their agricultural operations as well as generate additional income.