The decision by American Electric Power Company to close three West Virginia power plants by 2014 will result in the loss of 242 jobs, according to sources at the utility. However the potential job loss due to these closures could number in the tens of thousands.

Using the estimated amount of coal that would have been burned at the closed power plants (16.8 million tons) calculate the tons of coal per mwh conversion from the Union of Concerned Scientists’ website as a base and dividing that by the amount of coal an average West Virginia coal miner produces each year (6,857 tons), then take the total amount of coal produced last year (144 million tons) and dividing it by the number of working coal miners in the state (21,000), the total job losses in the coal industry in West Virginia of approximately 1,575 mining jobs and 2,450 mining jobs regionally.

Using the economic multiplier of three derived from the WVU/MU Joint Study on the Economic Impact of Coal (2010) , and combining that with the 600 direct jobs lost expected at AEP (1,800 using a factor of three multiplier), we see a total potential job loss of 10,623 jobs regionally, with many of these coming in West Virginia as well.

In announcing the closure, AEP cited environmental regulations issued by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the cause of the impending closures.

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