US utility AEP’s plans for an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant in West Virginia have been approved by the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC).

The consent brings Ohio-based AEP a step closer to its goal of constructing and commissioning a commercial-scale IGCC power plant by 2010.

The West Virginia PSC has granted AEP a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the 629 MW plant, which will be built beside the company’s existing Mountaineer plant near New Haven, W.Va. The estimated cost of the plant is $2.23 billion.

AEP has also filed for an environmental permit from West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and is expecting a decision in April. Construction of the new plant will take around 50 months, says AEP.

AEP announced in 2004 that it would build at least one IGCC plant, provided that the costs can be recovered through the regulatory process. It has since proposed construction of the Mountaineer plant as well as a similar 629 MW unit in Ohio.

“It is critical for our nation and the world that we move forward with advanced, cleaner technologies that allow us to continue to use coal for electricity generation,” said Michael G. Morris, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer. “With IGCC generation, we can continue to rely on our nation’s and West Virginia’s abundant coal resources as a generating fuel with fewer emissions and less impact on our environment.