By the OGJ Online Staff
HOUSTON, June 14, 2001 Dominion Resources Inc., Richmond, Va., and Anker Energy Corp. Buckhannon, W.Va., Thursday said they will jointly develop a $600 million, 450 MW coal and coal waste-fired electric power station and mining complex in Upshur County, W.Va.
Under the agreement, Dominion would construct, own, and operate the state-of-the-art “clean coal” plant which would burn more than 65% coal waste. Anker Energy would provide all of the facility’s fuel from on site surface mining operations.
If approved, the facility is expected to begin commercial operations by the fourth quarter of 2005, pending federal, state, and local permitting, including air permits from the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection.
With support from President George W. Bush’s energy task force that call for diversified fuel sources to power electric plants, a newly emboldened coal industry is growing more optimistic about the outlook after years of pessimism brought on by air and water pollution problems associated with operating coal-fired power plants.
The proposed generating station would operate as a merchant plant, supplying electricity to the western portion of the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland (PJM) wholesale power grid, Dominion said.
Dominion Chairman Thomas E. Capps said he was pleased by initial support for the project from local and state officials. West Virginia’s US Sens. Thomas Byrd and John D. Rockefeller IV, both Democrats, endorsed the project as did Rep. Shelley Moore-Capito ®.
Democratic Gov. Bob Wise said the plant proves “West Virginia does not have to choose between good jobs and a clean environment we can have both. This project is a model for that. Anker Energy and Dominion are going to provide an economic benefit, provide employment, and contribute to solving our country’s energy shortage. They’re going to meet tough new standards for protecting the air.”
‘Clean coal’ technology utilized
As an abundant natural resources, Capps said coal “should continue to be an integral source of energy for our nation,” he said. “We will develop the project in an environmentally friendly manner, using clean-coal technology and burning predominantly coal waste.”
The Upshur County facility would operate as a solid waste disposal facility, burning both coal and coal waste. It would use circulating fluidized bed (CFB) boilers, a technology which allows coal to be burned more cleanly and efficiently.
Limestone, injected into the combustion process, reacts with sulfur in the coal to lower emissions of sulfur dioxide. Other emission control systems will be installed to substantially reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, the companies said.
Alkaline ash, a byproduct of the limestone-sulfur reaction, will be used in the mining and reclamation process to prevent acid mine drainage. Acid mine drainage results when water mixes with sulfur in the mining process and drains into the surrounding aquifer.
CFB boilers can also burn low heat-content coal and waste fuel, which traditional boilers cannot. Dominion said this will allow all coal and coal waste produced in the mining process to be burned in the proposed generation station. It will also allow coal waste from the site’s previous and future mining operations to be burned, eliminating another potential source of acid mine drainage.
The proposed generation station in Upshur County would be Dominion’s 11th coal-fired power plant. The company generates more than 5,700 MW from coal from plants in Virginia, West Virginia, and Illinois. Dominion’s Clover station near South Boston, Va., jointly owned with Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, was one of the last major coal-fired facilities built in the US.
The new project will allow Anker to develop its existing surface mineable coal reserves in Upshur County, said Anker Pres. Bruce Sparks. Previously mined in the mid-1980s, the prior mining operations created acid mine drainage on the property. He said the company has since developed a mining and reclamation technique that will allow these reserves to be mined without creating acid mine drainage. Sparks said the company is encouraged by the initial water results from early tests at the site.