In operation since 1912, Kentucky Utilities is a large electrical utility company headquartered in Lexington. It is owned by Louisville Gas & Electric and KU Energy, which in turn are subsidiaries of the PPL Corporation. Originally serving customers in five counties in Kentucky, the company has grown by leaps and bounds over the decade and now serves 77 Kentucky counties and five counties in Virginia. Currently there are more than 515,000 customers that use electricity provided by Kentucky Utilities, and most the company’s electricity is generated by five power stations.
The Ghent Generating Station is a coal-fired plant that has been operational since 1973. It is the largest of Kentucky Utilities operating power plants and produces in excess of 2,000 megawatts of power when running at capacity. The Tyrone Generating Station began operation in 1947, and is also a coal-fired generating facility. Output capacity at this site is about 135 megawatts. The E.W. Brown Generating Station is located on the banks of Lake Herrington and has both fossil fuel generators and gas combustion units. The original plant was constructed in 1920 and includes a small hydroelectric unit, the Dix Dam Hydro Station. It operates only when lake levels are above average. About 24 megawatts of electricity can be generated at the facilities.
The Green River Generating Station in western Kentucky has four coal-fired units that produce a maximum of about 240 megawatts of electricity. In 1974 this became the first power plant in Kentucky to incorporate modern scrubbing equipment that removes most of the dangerous sulfur dioxide from flue gas.
Prior to the 1980s asbestos was used at most power stations in the United States, possibly including those operated by Kentucky Utilities. Asbestos is a lightweight material that has long been used as a fire retardant and insulating compound. Asbestos was often used in a cloth that wrapped heated steam pipes in coal-fired electric generating plants. It could also be made into pressed board and tile components for buildings, as well as protective gear worn by employees that worked in areas of high heat, such as furnace rooms at these coal plants.
Asbestos fibers were a cause of multiple health problems and was the primary culprit behind mesothelioma symptoms. Former workers at Kentucky Utilities’ power stations may have inhaled asbestos fibers while at the job sites, but would show no symptoms of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disorders for 20 to 50 years.