The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set a deadline to finalize its revision of a coal ash residual rule.
The EPA must finalize the rule by Dec. 19, according to a settlement signed on Jan. 29. The settlement is in response to a 2012 lawsuit from several environmental and public health groups that alleges the EPA did not have a rule in place for coal ash.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in October that the EPA has a mandatory duty to review and revise its waste regulations every three years under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), including the coal ash disposal rule. However, the court did not set a date for EPA to finalize the rule.
Oklahoma asks Supreme Court to review regional haze decision
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) and Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that rejected a challenge to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional haze plan for the state.
A three-judge panel ruled in the decision the EPA has the authority to implement its own plan for the state to comply with the Regional Haze Rule under the Clean Air Act. Pruitt requested a rehearing before the full 10-judge panel of the Court of Appeals last September, but the court denied the request.
According to a statement from Pruitt, states have the primary authority to design and implement plans to address visibility issues in federal wildlife areas, and the EPA “exceeded its authority when it dismissed Oklahoma’s plan in favor of a federal plan that will lead to utility rate increases of as much as 20 percent.”
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.
Siemens to supply 79 wind turbines for Texas project
Siemens Energy will supply 79 wind turbines to a 182-MW project in Texas.
The Panhandle 2 project is being developed by Pattern Energy Group and will use 79 Siemens SWT-2.3-108 turbines. Component deliveries will start in March 2014 and commissioning of the turbines is set for November 2014. The contract also includes a service and maintenance agreement.
The rotor blades will be manufactured at the Siemens wind turbine blade facility in Iowa, and the nacelles will be assembled in Kansas. Pattern Energy Group Inc. will acquire the project once it is completed.
Google invested $75 million in the project earlier this month.
Mitsubishi to provide turbines for Oklahoma gas-fired project
Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas Inc. (MPSA) will provide a natural gas turbine and steam turbine for the Grand River Dam Authority’s (GRDA) proposed new Unit 3 at an existing power plant in Chouteau, Okla. The deal won unanimous approval from GRDA’s Board of Directors.
Mitsubishi will provide an M501J gas turbine, an SRT-50 steam turbine and associated electric generators for the facility. The new 495-MW combined cycle unit will be built adjacent to the existing two-unit GRDA Coal-Fired Complex. The unit is expected to be put into service in spring 2017.
Under a separate long-term service agreement, MPSA will also provide comprehensive maintenance for the gas turbine and associated electric generator.
GRDA Chief Executive Officer/Director of Investments Dan Sullivan stated the new unit would be “very reliable,” and the company expects it to eventually become GRDA’s primary generation unit.
Cost for the turbine-generators is $77.8 million, with total costs for the entire Unit 3 estimated to be $372 million.
Funding available to research taller wind turbines
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $2 million to fund research projects that harness wind energy using taller towers.
Projects under the funding will engineer design concepts for fabricating and installing turbine and tower systems with a minimum hub height of 120 meters.
Large-scale wind turbines in operation today average 90 meters. Projects should also address the potential transportation and logistical challenges larger towers face.
DOE says in the northeastern, southeastern and western U.S., wind conditions near the ground are often low or turbulent, which limits the amount of electricity generated from wind energy. Taller turbines take advantage of the more consistent winds
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s “Analysis of Transportation and Logistics Challenges Affecting the Deployment of Larger Wind Turbines,” wind turbines with hub heights up to 140 meters will unlock an additional 1,800 GW in wind power resource potential across an area roughly the size of Texas, or 237,000 square miles.
Duke Energy not interested in V.C. Summer nuclear plant
Duke Energy said there are no plans to buy a share in two units under construction at the 1,000-MW V.C. Summer nuclear power plant in South Carolina.
South Carolina Gas & Electric (SCE&G) bought a 5 percent stake, or 110 MW, in the units for $500 million from Santee Cooper. SCE&G now owns 60 percent of the new units and Santee Cooper owns 40 percent. Duke Energy signed a letter of intent to look into buying a 5 to 10 percent share in the units back in 2011.
The plant will use two 1,100-MW Westinghouse AP1000 reactors that are expected to come online in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
New generation led by natural gas
Natural gas was the leading source of new power generation in the U.S. in 2013, installing 7,270 MW of capacity, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s recently-released Energy Infrastructure Update for December 2013.
That number represents about 51.2 percent of all power generation capacity added last year.
Renewable energy sources added 5,279 MW of capacity in 2013, or around 37.2 percent of all added capacity.
The largest contributor to renewable power sources was solar power, which added 2,936 MW of capacity in 2013, which represents around 20.7 percent of capacity installed.
Wind added 1,129 MW of capacity, which was 7.9 percent of all new capacity. That marked a large drop from 2012 levels when wind added 12,425 MW of capacity, or 41.8 percent of all new capacity, largely because of the production tax credit that was set to expire at the end of 2012 before being extended.
Coal-fired power sources added 1,543 MW of capacity in 2013, representing 10.9 percent of all new capacity.
Overall, 14,207 MW of new capacity was installed in 2013, a decrease from the 29,710 MW of new capacity added in 2012.
Gas and solar plant proposed in Kentucky
Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities filed an application with the Kentucky Public Service Commission to build a second natural gas-fired combined-cycle unit and a solar power plant.
After analyzing numerous competitive bids, LG&E and KU decided that building a second unit at the Green River site would be most beneficial.
The 700-MW gas-fired unit would cost approximately $700 million to build.
In addition, LG&E and Kentucky Utilities would build a 10-MW solar plant costing $36 million at the Brown generating station. The natural gas-fired power plant is expected to be online in 2018 and the solar facility online in 2016.
LG&E and KU both announced they are retiring 800 MW of coal-fired generation at the Cane Run, Green River and Tyrone power plants, and building a 640 MW combined-cycle unit at Cane Run.
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