Duke Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have signed an agreement over the cleanup of coal ash that flowed into the Dan River after a stormwater pipe broke at the company’s retired Dan River coal-fired power plant in North Carolina, on Feb. 2.
Under the agreement, Duke will:
- Remove any remaining coal ash from the Dan River within a 27-mile radius,
- Continue to test water,
- Develop and implement a comprehensive removal site assessment to determine contamination levels at the Dan River, including the Kerr Reservoir,
- Dispose off-site all recovered coal ash, and
- Submit a report on the structural integrity of impoundments and storm sewer lines running under the coal ash basin.
In addition, Duke is required to submit a work plan for coal ash removal to the EPA no later than July 15.
Oklahoma AG’s proposal allows states to set emissions standards
|Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt revealed his proposal that gives states the flexibility to address carbon dioxide emissions standards from existing power plants.|
The plan titled, “The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Plan: The Clean Air Act Section 111(d) Framework that Preserves States’ Rights,” challenges President Obama’s Climate Action Plan which directs the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing fossil-fuel fired power plants. However, under the Clean Air Act, states have the authority to design and implement regulations, addressing emissions standards.
Pruitt argues that by directing the EPA to set emissions standards, the Obama administration is using a federal agency to undermine state authority.
“The EPA has played an important role historically in protecting the environment. But the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws envision a cooperative federalism where the states and federal government work together to protect our air and water,” Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt said. The proposal includes a unit-by-unit, “inside the fence” approach, allowing states to evaluate each unit’s ability to improve efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
“States have a vested interest in protecting the air and water, and they have the experience, expertise, and ability to regulate these issues,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt adds that the EPA’s mandate that new coal-fired power plants install carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, violates federal law and the technology has not been proven commercially viable. He also mentions the Environmental Policy Act of 2005 which states that the EPA may not use federally-funded projects to prove a technology is commercially proven. The EPA included federally-funded projects in its regulatory analysis.
EPA finalizes 316(b) standards
TThe EPA finalized the 316(b) standards under the Clean Water Act to protect aquatic life drawn each year into cooling water systems at large power plants.
More than 2 billion fish, crabs, and shrimp are killed annually by impingement or entrainment.
According to the EPA, the final rule affects 544 existing power generating facilities that withdraw more than 2 million gallons per day of water from U.S. waters and use at least 25 percent of the water they withdraw for cooling purposes. The rule requires that the location, design, construction and capacity of cooling water intake structures reflect the best available technology for minimizing negative environmental impacts. To ensure flexibility, the owner or operator of the facility will choose one of seven options to meet the requirements with the best technology available. Facilities that use more than 125 million gallons per day are required to conduct studies to determine what controls will be required.
New units at an existing facility that are built to increase the generating capacity are required to reduce the intake flow to a level similar to a closed cycle, recirculation system. EPRI said in an article that their research showed closed-loop cooling costs were estimated at $100 billion to retrofit 450 power plants four years ago. Those costs are now estimated to be at least $50 million per plant, and the system could cost $2 billion or more per plant, particularly for nuclear facilities.
The national requirements will be implemented through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.
EPA had delayed finalizing the rule several times since the 2004 Phase II Cooling Water Intake Structure rules were suspended in July 2007.
Dominion holds groundbreaking for natural gas-fired power plant
Dominion Virginia Power, subsidiary of Dominion Resources, held the groundbreaking ceremony for the $1.3 billion, 1,360-MW Brunswick County natural gas-fired power plant in Virginia.
Construction on the combined-cycle power plant started in September, and the plant is currently 17 percent complete. The plant is on budget and on schedule to be completed by summer of 2016. Fluor Corp. is the engineering and procurement services provider for the project.
DTE Energy sells Marysville Power Plant to Commercial Development Co.
Commercial Development Co. has successfully acquired the Marysville Power Plant in Marysville, Mich. from DTE Energy.
The historic plant, which sits on a 20-acre site along the St. Clair River, operated from 1922 until 2001 and was released for decommissioning in 2011. When operations ceased, the plant generated 167-MW of electricity.
The preliminary agreement was announced in December; however, the deal was finalized May 23.
Commercial Development Co. will begin the first phase of the cleanup and expects the site will be ready for development in about 18 months.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Skyonic secures $12.5M to develop carbon capture technology
Skyonic Corp., an Austin-based carbon-capture technology company, has secured $12.5 million in funding from ConocoPhillips and Enbridge to develop Skyonic’s carbon capture technology and make it commercially available.
The financing joins the recently announced $500,000 grant from the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation to bring the SkyCycle technology to pilot scale by late 2015.
Skyonic estimates that the cost of carbon capture is between $150 and $450 per ton. In addition, the SkyCycle technology is estimated to be between $16 and $25 per ton.
SkyCycle technology uses a thermolytic chemical reaction to capture carbon dioxide emissions.
The process converts carbon dioxide emissions into hydrochloric acid and calcium carbonate, also known as limestone.
The technology is able to capture approximately 94 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.
Maryland Governor’s veto allows $200M wind energy project to move forward
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley vetoed a bill that would have postponed a $200 million wind farm being developed on the state’s eastern shore.
House Bill 1168 would have delayed the 150-MW Great Bay Wind Energy Center by 13-months. The bill, which passed the Maryland General Assembly in April, sought to delay the project because of its proximity to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, according to Think Progress. The assembly argued that the turbines could compromise the naval systems.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) stated that the radar systems were not at risk as long as the turbines stop spinning while in use. The DOD previously signed an agreement with Pioneer Green Energy to shut down the turbines during system testing.
“The developers of the Great Bay Wind project have engaged in years of painstaking negotiations, played by the rules, and invested millions of dollars in good faith reliance on the policies established by our federal and State legislative bodies,” O’Malley said. “If this moratorium were to take effect, it would send a chilling message to clean energy investors … that the State can change the rules at the eleventh hour.”
The bill’s postponement was to allow time for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to complete a $2 million study to evaluate the turbines’ impact on the radar systems.
O’Malley previously mandated that the state must use 20 percent renewable energy by 2022.
Units at Minnesota Power’s Thomson hydro plant to return online
Minnesota Power’s 72-MW Thomson hydropower plant could resume producing power early this summer.
The project, located on the St. Louis River, was closed for rehabilitation in June 2012 after heavy rains caused overtopping of the reservoir.
Repairs conducted over a 22-month period have included the planning and rebuilding of the forebay; cleaning, repairing and refurbishing of the powerhouse and its six turbine-generators; and the repair and replacement of flow lines, penstocks and valves.
Minnesota Power, a subsidiary of ALLETE, said the reconstruction and improvements have cost the company about $90 million.
Engineers expect all six of the damaged turbines to enter operations by the end of the year.
PowerOptions signs $325M natural gas contract
PowerOptions and Hess Energy Marketing LLC (HEM), a subsidiary of Direct Energy Business LLC, signed a $325 million contract to supply natural gas to its 500 members who are among the Commonwealth’s nonprofits and government institutions.
“This contract is a great opportunity for our customers, with several pricing options. Members can lock in their price for the full term of the contract, creating an ability to better predict their natural gas bills,” said PowerOptions President and CEO Cynthia Arcate. PowerOptions has been providing energy solutions to nonprofits, state entities, cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth area for more than 15 years. The supply agreement begins in May 2015 and extends to November 2019.
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