Coal, Nuclear

Utility plans to demolish 3 coal-fired plants

Issue 11 and Volume 117.

 B.C. Cobb plant
B.C. Cobb plant

Consumers Energy has asked the state to approve a bond issue that will allow it to close and demolish three coal-fired power plants in Michigan.

The request to the Michigan Public Service Commission would allow it to close and demolish the B.C. Cobb plant beginning in April 2016. The request comes amid stricter federal regulations.

The same closure and demolition plans are being made for coal-fired units at Consumers Energy’s J.R. Whiting near Luna Pier in Monroe County and J.C. Weadock near Bay City on the Saginaw Bay.

Plans will move forward if the $454 million bond issue gets approval, said company spokesman Dan Bishop.

Consumers Energy officials have said the company won’t invest new environmental technology into its aging coal plants during a time that electrical use in Michigan has stabilized and the company is preparing to build a new natural gas-fired plant.

Turbine cracking caused Sherco 3 shutdown


Northern States Power on Oct. 21 submitted a long-promised Root Cause Analysis Report to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission about the primary cause of the catastrophic outage that occurred in November 2011 at the coal-fired Sherburne County Unit 3 (Sherco 3).

Nearly two years of Sherco 3 restoration work has been completed and the repaired unit was synchronized to the electric grid on Sept. 4, taken off-line days later to address post-restoration items and returned again to service Oct. 10, with testing continuing at various load levels.

PA must set deadline for coal ash regulations

A federal district court judge issued a memorandum opinion in October stating the EPA has 60 days to inform the court of when the agency plans to complete a review and revision of its regulations concerning coal ash.

The memorandum was written in response to a lawsuit filed by multiple environmental and public health groups in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

After the EPA informs the court of when a review will be complete, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit may file a response to the agency’s proposal.

Nuclear power plant workers banned from sites after attempted carjacking

Dresden nuclear power plant
Dresden nuclear power plant

Two former workers at the Dresden nuclear power plant in Illinois are banned from working in nuclear power plants.

NRC staff issued a confirmatory order to Exelon Generating Co. for an incident involving violations of the Behavioral Observation Program at the plant. NRC says senior reactor operator Michael J. Buhrman planned to rob an armored car in May 2012 and recruited another senior reactor operator, Landon E. Brittain, to assist. Buhrman instead pointed a gun at a woman in a store parking lot and stole her vehicle. Buhrman was apprehended for aggravated vehicular carjacking and fled the country when he was released on bail. He was tried and sentenced to 40 years in absentia in May, but was caught in Texas on Nov. 1. Brittain had fled to Venezuela but was caught and extradited back to the U.S. to face several criminal charges pending against him.

Microsoft signs 20-year PPA for Texas wind power project

Microsoft Corp. has entered a 20-year power purchase agreement with RES Americas to buy 100 percent of the electricity generated from a wind power project in Texas. The project, Keechi Wind Farm Project, will begin construction in December and is expected to be operational by June 2015.

The 110-MW project will use 55 turbines and is located 70 miles northwest of Fort Worth.

Kemper IGCC costs inch higher with delay

Kemper County coal gasification power plant
Kemper County coal gasification power plant

Southern Co. continues to see the total price for the Kemper County coal gasification power plant inch higher in Mississippi while major milestones are being met on new nuclear generation in Georgia.

Southern reported 3Q13 earnings of $852 million, or 97 cents per share, compared with earnings of $976 million, or $1.11 per share, in 3Q12.

The increased rainfall across the Southern territory might be one reason that Southern saw its share of hydroelectric and other non-fossil, non-nuclear electric generation double from 2 percent during the first nine months of 2012 to 4 percent during the first nine months of 2013.

The share of gas-and-oil generation in the Southern fleet has decreased from 45 percent in the first nine months of 2012 to 42 percent during the first three quarters of 2013. Coal power output has increased slightly from 37 percent to 38 percent while nuclear energy stayed flat at 16 percent.

Jewell discusses developing renewable energy on public lands

 Sally Jewell and President Barack Obama
Sally Jewell and President Barack Obama

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell discussed initiatives to place renewable energy on public lands in a recent speech at the National Press Club luncheon.

“We are already seeing this approach work as we seek to meet President Obama’s goal of approving 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy on public lands by 2020,” Jewell said. “It’s a goal toward which my predecessor, Ken Salazar, made huge strides.”

Jewell also discussed specific examples, such as the Interior Department working with California on a plan to help site renewable energy and an effort to protect key caribou habitat at the National petroleum Reserve in Alaska while also making more than 72 percent of the estimated economically recoverable oil available.

Court denies OGE’s request for regional haze rehearing

A three-judge panel from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a request by OG&E, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and the Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers asking for the full court to review a previous decision upholding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional haze plan for Oklahoma.

The EPA’s plan to address emissions would call for installing scrubbers in OG&E power plants, while Oklahoma officials and agency have supported a state plan that would use low-sulfur coal and give utilities in the state the flexibility to burn less coal and more natural gas to achieve the goals of the rule.

According to OG&E, the EPA’s plan will result in higher electricity rates for its customers, while the state plan would achieve the goals of the rule while limiting costs.

The 10th Circuit had stayed implementation of the federal plan in June 2012, but a three-judge panel ruled 2-1 in favor of the EPA last summer.

Swiss nuclear power plant to close by 2019

A nuclear power plant in Switzerland is scheduled to close in 2019.

State-owned power company BKW said it would shut down the Muehleberg nuclear power plant due to high operating costs and scrutiny following the 2011 disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

BKW said it would spend approximately 200 million Swiss francs ($222.67 million) to maintain and upgrade the plant over the next six years.

Pakistan begins work on new nuclear power plant

Karachi Coastal
Karachi Coastal

Pakistan has started work on a 1,000 MW nuclear power plant in Karachi that will be built with Chinese help, according to Energy Business Review.

The KANUPP-2 plant is part of the $4 billion, 2,000 MW Karachi Coastal power project, which involves construction of two 1,000 MW nuclear reactors, the article said. The plant is expected to take seven years to complete and will be located near the 137 MW KANUPP-1 plant, which has been in operation since 1970.

The government has reportedly allocated the first payment from the $1 billion to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission to begin development work on the plant. The country expects to ramp up nuclear capacity to 8,000 MW by 2025.

Installed generation lagging far behind 2012

The amount of new electric generating capacity installed during the first nine months of 2013 is lagging well behind the pace set in 2012, according to figures released recently by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Capacity installation for January through September of 2013 is 10,717 MW, compared to 14,217 MW installed through September 2012, according to the Energy Infrastructure Update for September issued by FERC’s Office of Energy Projects.

So far the biggest difference between 2012 and 2013 has been the 2012 wind energy boom. In the first nine months of 2012, 87 wind units were installed for a total of 5,043 MW.

By contrast, in the first three quarters of 2013, only nine new wind units have been commissioned for a total of 961 MW.

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