County Commission receives report from Rocky Mountain Power
In the second commission meeting in January representatives from PacifiCorp and Energy West gave an update. Deb Dull from Rocky Mountain Power introduced Darrell Cunningham from the Huntington Power Plant and Laren Huntsman from the Hunter Power Plant. Cunningham said on Dec. 31, 2013 their plant hit a milestone reaching the 1 million mark for man hours worked without a lost time accident. Their 162 employees have worked for three years to reach this number. They will have a celebration in honor of this achievement in safety at the plant.
In the fall, the plant will have a 37 day outage where work will be completed on the boiler and they will change the method of collecting bottom ash to a drag chain system. There will be 300 contractors on the site during the time of these upgrades and maintenance work. The plant workers are currently preparing bid scopes which will be put out soon for these projects. The plant is working closely with the Huntington Canyon Restoration Projects which will help minimize flood affects from the Seeley Fire.
Huntsman said the Hunter Plant reached their safety milestone of 1 million man hours worked without a lost time accident on Dec. 12, 2012. The power plants have come a long way with safety improvements. Recordable accidents used to be common, but now the safety records have improved dramatically.
On March 22, the overhaul will begin at Hunter plant on Unit one. There are 300 contractors on site now doing preparatory work and there will be 900 workers at the peak. This overhaul will be a benefit to the economy of Emery County. Unit one will be the last unit to receive a new bag house. This takes out the particulates and reduces emissions. Nox emissions will be cut in half.
There will also be boiler component replacements.
Hunter Plant has been involved with negotiations with the local irrigation systems to get contracts renewed. The plant was involved with the Cottonwood Creek Irrigation Company on the Adobe Wash project. "That was a good project with many benefits," said Huntsman. Cottonwood, Huntington and Ferron irrigation companies are involved with charging a higher share assessment rate for the power company. The power company is very supportive of the irrigation companies and their help in getting enough water for the power plants to function.
In the long term the power plant may need to install selective catalytic reduction technology which would reduce nox emissions even more than now. If this state department of environmental quality regulation goes into effect for this requirement, the power plant would need to have this $200 million dollar's worth of equipment in place in five years. The equipment attaches to the boiler and is close to the same size as the boiler.
Huntsman said the power plant is constantly conducting economic studies to gauge the plant's economic viability. All studies to date forecast the Hunter Plant is still viable and will remain viable into the future. There is a lot of uncertainty because of EPA regulations at this time. If a no carbon limit is imposed it would have significant impacts. The Hunter Plant currently has 220 full time employees some of which are reaching retirement age. These positions will be filled as retirements occur. Hiring new employees is good for the county said Huntsman.
Hunter receives 60-70 percent of its coal from SUFCO mine with a portion from Deer Creek, West Ridge and a small amount from Dugout. The majority of the coal for Huntington plant comes from Deer Creek with some from SUFCO.
The question was asked if there is any talk of converting these plants to natural gas. Huntsman said it is economically viable to continue to operate these plants with coal. It's not a very efficient use of natural gas and it is more expensive. The new natural gas plants are more efficient.
The plant hires workers with all types of skill levels, utility workers, mechanics, journeyman positions, instrument and control technicians, lab techs and others. The board operator positions usually go to those who have worked into those positions from within the company with on the job training in all aspects of the components of the power plant.
Ken Fleck from Energy West Mining is a geologist and takes care of the environmental affairs involved in the mining operations. They have four different mine sites and 240 employees. Deer Creek mined 2.7 million tons of coal in 2013 and is projected to mine 3.2 million tons this year. They are hoping to add 1,180 acres of federal coal leases and have applied to the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining to expand their leases. They have DOGM approval and are waiting for approval from the Office of Surface Mining. Other mine sites include Cottonwood where work will begin this year reclaiming that mine. Trail Mountain is idle and exploration activities are taking place there to determine if mining there is feasible. Desbee Dove Mine has been reclaimed for 10 years now and the company will ask for the phase three bond to be released. The company has received no violations on anything environmental concerning the Desbee Dove reclamation.
More information will be in the Feb. 4 issue of the Emery County Progress.