By Amethyst Cavallaro
Online Editor, Power Engineering
Longview Power LLC, a subsidiary of GenPower LLC, gained approval June 26 from the Public Service Commission of West Virginia (PSC) of its application for a siting and public convenience and necessity certificate to authorize construction and operation of its proposed $1 billion coal-fired project in West Virginia coal country. With the PSC's approval, Longview is one step closer to beginning a Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) project that will be the first of its kind to supply water for power generating purposes.
The Longview plant will have a 600 MW output using a supercritical pulverized coal fired boiler and use bituminous coal from a nearby mine. According to Longview Project Manager Tom Wheble, the company expects to begin construction this fall and commercial startup is slated for 2010. Longview is currently in negotiations for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services.
The site will be located in Maidsville, north of Morgantown, W.Va., in close proximity to Allegheny's Fort Martin 1,107-MW generating plant. The power plant is also adjacent to an operating coal mine, owned by MEPCO Inc., and Longview has obtained commitments from MEPCO to supply all the plant's fuel needs. The fuel supply plan includes conveyor belts that will bring in the coal to the power plant. Longview said MEPCO's reserves are sufficient to last the projected 30-year life of the plant.
"It made sense to use a West Virginia product," Wheble said. "Natural gas prices are volatile and it makes a lot of sense to use the resources here and keep as much revenue in the state as possible."
In another partnership with MEPCO, Longview will not only receive its coal from the company, but also its water. The companies have partnered up in an AMD program that will use acidic water pumped out of the Shannopin mine 10 miles north of Morgantown, processed at a water treatment located in nearby Davistown, Pa. and sent through a pipeline to the Longview power plant for boiler make-up and cooling purposes.
Acidic water that pooled in the Shannopin mine threatened to discharge in the Dunkard Creek and Monongahela River. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of West Virginia Water Research Institute, and his colleagues had been mapping underground mine pools and monitoring mine water levels, water chemistry and rates of water rise in a study of the Monongahela basin mine pools funded by the Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory. The study found that a discharge of AMD from the Shannopin mine would "have had significant impact on the water quality of the Monongahela River downstream of Dunkard Creek," including depressed pH levels and elevated iron concentrations.
MEPCO also had a stake in resolving the water problems in the AMD study areas. The water had pooled in the Pittsburg seam located below the resource-rich Sewickley seam that MEPCO wanted to mine and that will now be the primary source for Longview's coal supply. In order to begin mining operations, MEPCO needed to dewater the Pittsburg seam.
The resolution was a water treatment plant located in nearby Davistown, Pa. that uses reverse osmosis to clean the water and then discharges it into Dunkard Creek in Pennsylvania. According to Wheble, construction costs were approximately $6 million and was funded by grants and low-interest loans from Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection. MEPCO has taken over operation costs of the plant.
Once the Longview plant is operational, MEPCO will pump the AMD treated water through a pipeline to the plant's facilities. Planned water usage for Longview's plant is 7,500 gpm. Current plans call for all of the water to be supplied by the AMD project. Wheble said the billions of gallons of water underground will be more than enough to supply all of the plant's needs during its operational lifetime. The water project is the first of its kind and plans to result in zero-discharge for power plant process water.
In the end, the collaboration resulted in MEPCO getting access to more coal, Longview having a steady water supply and Pennsylvania avoiding a potential environmental problem.