Shirley Donnelly: Tour Of Big Kyger Creek Plant

Location: Kyger Creek, Gallia County, Ohio
Photo Credit: Amanda Abbott

I live just up the river from the Kyger Creek Plant. It was a pleasant surprise to find a column from Shirley Donnelly in which he describes attending the dedication of the plant in 1956.

Along with the article (and transcribing it for easier reading), I have included the Wikipedia entry containing information on the plant as well as a handful of archived newspaper clippings I found on the dedication of the plant.

According to Wikipedia:

Kyger Creek Power Plant is a 1.08-gigawatt, 1,086 (MW) coal-fired power station located south of Cheshire, Ohio in Gallia County, Ohio. It is operated by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC).


The Kyger Creek plant was launched into service in 1955. The plant with its five units supplied electricity for the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, Ohio along with its sister plant, Clifty Creek Power Plant in Madison, Indiana. The Kyger Creek plant is located 1.6 miles (2.6 km) downstream along the Ohio River from a much larger and newer coal-fired Gavin Power Plant. 

Environmental mitigation

When Kyger Creek was first constructed, three 538 feet (164 m) smokestacks were constructed to disperse emissions; mitigating the nearby area from soot and foul gases. With amendments added to the Clean Air Act in 1970, regulators pressed Kyger Creek in modernizing their outdated smokestacks. A 1,001 feet (305 m) smokestack, one of the tallest chimneys in the world was built in the mid-1970s. Pollution control systems were installed at Kyger Creek in 2001 to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 80%. The implementation of two jet bubbling reactor flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) systems in 2011 reduced 98% of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions at Kyger Creek.

Beckley Post-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia 01 June 1956, page 4 -
Beckley Post-Herald
Beckley, West Virginia
01 Jun 1956, Fri  •  Page 4

Yesterday And Today-

Tour Of Big Kyger Creek Power


On May 24. I was guest of Appalachian Electric Power Company at the formal dedication of the great Kyger Creek Electric Power Plant in Ohio.

My good friend and fellow townsman, O. C. Hall, local representative of the Appalachian Power Company at Oak Hill, had invited me some weeks ago. He was at Upson. Downs on the dot at 8 a.m. Thursday to whisk me to the big doings in the Buckeye State that day at noon. Along with us went Paul Bavely, the public accountant of Oak Hill. It was a lovely day and the company was so congenial that I failed to note the rapid passing of time.

I always enjoy getting out on a jaunt with bright young men like these two fellows. Before we could attend the formalities in Ohio, we had to be given security clearance by the national powers that be. Evidence that we were to be trusted was a badge about the size of a saucer–a small saucer. I mean–with our names printed on it. This badge was worn, on our coat lapel that the armed guards might see we were approved people. I never felt so important in all my life when I got that big badge on with my name printed on it! They even had my name spelled correctly; and that is something.

Maybe you’d like to know what the big Kyger Creek plant is all about. Well, it is an Electric Power enterprise that is so vast that it rightfully takes two or more people to tell you just how vast it is. It was like this. In 1952 the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission decided to build a giant atomic plant in Pike County, Ohio. Now Pike County, Ohio, is in southern Ohio where there is a lot of water in the form of the Ohio River. Atomic plants like the Pike County one require whole heaps of electric power. This Ohio atomic plant wanted its electric power in one great big hurry, so the Atomic Energy Commission turned to the private electric industry of the Ohio Valley and asked, Can you all supply us this power?

Fifteen electric companies of the region got their heads together to see could it be done. They answered in effect, “Can do.” Those fifteen companies organized the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation and called it OVEC for short. It was chartered in Ohio on Oct. 1, 1952. Then they formed a subsidiary outfit and called it the Indiana-Kentucky Electric Corporation.

This last named corporation they called IKEC. One of the fifteen companies in OVEC is the Appalachian Electric Power Company of our midst. The two plants are about 200 miles apart but both are on the Ohio River because they need more water than anybody. These plants cost around 385 million dollars. Every single penny of this was provided by private financing. These two plants are the largest generating plants ever built by private enterprise. The one I saw at Kyger Creek was so immense that it staggered my mind and threw me into a tizzy.

Those two plants were built and completed ahead of schedule which shows what Americans can do when they have a mind to work. I can’t begin to tell how much stuff they used in putting up those plants. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. One instance will have to do you, but that ought to hold you for a while. In building the two plants they used enough concrete to more than build a two lane highway all the way from Charleston, W. Va., to Columbus. Ohio. Can you imagine a thing like that? Oh, it’s clear out of this world!

Philip Sporn, a native of Austria, heads up OVEC. He had more electric know how than almost any man who has lived since the Lord God said, “Let there be light!” way back there in the dawn of creation. These two plants have a total generating capability of 2,365,000 kilowatts of electric power. That slays me! Thus it is that the two plants can supply the Atomic Energy Commission in Pike County, Ohio, with full electric power requirements. This power is being used and will be used in producing U-235, the vital component of America’s growing stockpile of atomic weapons for defense of the nation. In atomic technology the key operation is uranium diffusion, a thing that requires worlds of electric power. Please don’t ask me to explain this as I don’t know a thing world about it. But it is something pretty deep, you know.

To run these two big plants they use coal. In 1952 OVEC signed 15-year contract to buy 7 1/2 million tons of coal a year, the largest single coal supply commitment in the history of the world. It is all to be delivered by river barge. What’s more OVEC has signed a contract to deliver 1,950,000 kilowatts of electricity annually to the Atomic plant in County, Ohio. The contract is to run for 25 long years, too. Whew!

I forgot to say the Kyger Creek plant is at Cheshire, Ohio. Down the river at the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission plant at Portsmouth they have a sign that is pregnant with significance. It reads: “No Cameras. . . No Firearms. . . No Intoxicants of any type allowed.” That’s up there at the Portsmouth, Ohio, project.

The two plants I have been raving about today have a total generating power of 2,365,000 kilowatts when they run at capacity. They tell me that only 10 of 48 states in the good old U. S. annually consume more power than the Portsmouth, Ohio, Atomic Energy Commission plant. Those ten states are New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and, of course, California. Next time you fuss about how big your light bill is, think of the electric bill the Portsmouth Project will receive! It’ll run up in the tens of millions of dollars a year. The total generating capacity of 27 of our 48 states today does not add up to the block power of the Portsmouth deal requires. Wires that carry the big juice out of the Kyger Creek Plant look to me to be as big as a man’s wrist.

The Journal Herald
Dayton, Ohio
25 May 1956, Fri  •  Page 7
The Raleigh Register
Beckley, West Virginia
22 May 1956, Tue  •  Page 4
The Marion Star
Marion, Ohio
24 May 1956, Thu  •  Page 28
The Evening Independent
Massillon, Ohio
25 May 1956, Fri  •  Page 12
The Daily Reporter
Dover, Ohio
24 May 1956, Thu  •  Page 30

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