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Front Page » September 24, 2013 » Local News » War on coal: EPA regulations work to make coal fired powe...
Published 304 days ago

War on coal: EPA regulations work to make coal fired power plants/inexpensive power a thing of the past


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By PATSY STODDARD
Editor

The Division of Oil, Gas and Mining held their collaborative meeting in Castle Dale on Sept. 12. One of the topics was the Environmental Protection Agency's new rules for power plants and their emissions. William K. Lawson is the Director of Environmental Services for PacifiCorp Energy and he presented information on new regulations which the coal fired plants must adhere to in the near future. "There's a lot going on right now. PacifiCorp is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. They employee 6,300 people and have 1.8 million customers and 11,224 net MW generation capacity. The area they serve is 136,000 square miles. The goal is reliable service at a reasonable cost.

Lawson said coal has been a challenge lately. PacifiCorp's power comes from: coal-55 Percent; natural gas 25 percent; hydro-10 percent; renewable-10 percent.

Baseloaded power is available when you need it. The capacity with renewables is unreliable. The power generated in Utah is mostly from coal. Hydropower is more in the Pacific Northwest.

Lawson went over each of the new rules and regulations and gave an idea of what it means for PacifiCorp. He said coal fired power plants at this time are really being scrutinized. "The reality is we can reduce emissions to zero but it may not have any impact on regional haze. Between 2005-12, emissions have been reduced by 50 percent. The installation of a scrubber at Huntington Plant made a significant reduction. PacifiCorp has made significant efforts to reduce emissions. In our existing coal plants emissions have been reduced. The States come up with regulations which are approved by the EPA. Currently, they are not accepting any of the states regulations. Our worst days last year were caused by fires. Low nox burners have been installed on all but Hunter I and that will be installed in 2014. The cost is $10-19 million. All these costs are being stacked on coal. PacifiCorp's main goal is to provide reliable energy at reasonable cost. You would expect as technology gets better that costs would lower, but that's not happening. How do you encourage utilities to get away from coal? Make it more expensive to produce."

All new gas units have been put in with all the catalytic specifications in place. Naughton 3 in Wyoming needs a bag house which isn't cost effective so that plant will be converted to natural gas.

Nox controls for Utah's BART units are still under review. Hunter and Huntington plants are targets. EPA is pushing the state to acquire aggressive Nox controls. The state plan has required the installation of low Nox2 burners.

The EPA has not defined a baseline for pollutants. Everything but steam is listed as a pollutant.

Laren Huntsman, from Hunter Plant commented on one of the slides in the slide show. He said the graph that showed zero pollutants by 2040 indicates that all the coal fired plants will be shut down.

Susan White from DOGM asked how long the Carbon Plant would have kept operating if these new regulations hadn't come into effect. Lawson indicated the power plant would have kept operating.

Any changes at the power plants must be permitted and must meet new standards. The future of coal fire power plants is so uncertain no one is investing in coal fired power plants at this time. It was mentioned that one of the IPP units is also going to convert to natural gas. One question raised is will coal be dead in the near future.

Lawson said one of his greatest concerns is that people are not aware of what's going on with all the new regulations. It may take five or six years for everything to go into effect and by then it may be too late. People need to speak out now against the war on coal and the coal mining industry. If something isn't done to defend coal right away, the industry will be gone and the cost of power will increase dramatically.

In California, regulations prevent any power from coming into the state that is coal power plant produced. This not only limits their options, but drives up the cost of power for industries and households within the state. It also leaves Utah out of the loop in sending power to California. One bright spot might be that other countries want the coal produced in Utah. A problem with this is getting a port to ship the coal overseas.

Other states are taking the same approach to coal as California. As power plants convert to natural gas, this will drive up the cost of natural gas.

White asked if a brand new coal fired power plant were to be built today, could all the environmental regulations be met. Lawson said everything could be met but the carbon dioxide.

If you go to EPA.gov their main focus is on greenhouse gases.

Lawson was asked about nuclear power, he replied the problem with nuclear power is it's a 17 year process through a lot of regulations and a lot of uncertainty.

Lawson was asked about climate change. He said he has his own personal opinions about climate change, but he believes climate change has been occurring for a very long time.

The question was asked isn't it better to use the resources we have now and rebuild as needed because the transmission lines and facilities are in place.

Lawson said, yes, it's a challenge to get new transmission lines in place and the EPA is not properly considering costs with transmission for renewables.

The EPA Regulations impacting coal-fired Units include, regional haze, Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, National Ambient Air Quality Standards, One-hour Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) Standard, One-hour Nitrogen Dioxide Standard (NO2) Standard, Particulate Matter less than 2.5 Microns (PM2.5) and Ozone Standard.

The Regional Haze Rules were developed as a long-term program to achieve natural visibility conditions in specific national parks and wilderness areas by 2064. Pollutants impacted include SO2 NOX and Particulate Matter. The Regional Haze Rules are not a health-based standard. The Program is broken into 10-year planning periods.

Initial planning period focuses on application of Best Available Retrofit Technologies (BART) to control sources of haze-causing emissions from units constructed between 1962 and 1977. This includes power plants, smelters, etc.

Coal Combustion Residual Regulations Impact the disposal of fly ash and bottom ash.

Water Effluent Limit Guidelines Impact the disposal of waste water. 316 (b) Regulations Impacts water intake structures to make sure there is no damage to fish at the intake structure.

From 2005-2012, Implementation of the States' plans has reduced PacifiCorp's Utah, Wyoming and Arizona SO2 and NOX emissions by 50 percent. The EPA new regulations are stricter than the States plans. The EPA requires all states to have a plan of their own to address environmental quality issues.

Regional Haze - Changes in Interpretation Key Remaining Period I issue is defining BART NOX controls. With respect to NOX controls, EPA's 2005 Guidelines stated that most coal units would meet BART NOX requirements through the use of current combustion control technology, i.e. the careful control of combustion air and low-NOX burners.

EPA's 2013 plan for PacifiCorp's 10 BART Units in Wyoming requires 8 SCR and 2 SNCR. This adds hundreds of millions of dollars in additional capital costs and operating expenses.

To deal with Regional Haze Impacts, PacifiCorp in Wyoming will convert one coal unit to natural gas. Potentially five other coal units will be converted to gas or retired. The amount of money it would take to bring these other units up to standard is cost prohibitive.

In Utah, the NOX controls for Utah's BART Units are still under review. EPA is pushing the state to require aggressive NOX controls (SCR). The state plan has required the installation of Low NOX burners.

The Final rule was released on December 21, 2011 and the compliance deadline is April 16, 2015.

This Rule requires Reductions in Mercury Emissions Reductions in Hazardous non-mercury metals and Reduction in Acid Gases. It requires significant increases in monitoring, reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

To meet the MATS requirements in Utah the Carbon Plant will be retired in April 2015. Expenses would be too prohibitive to bring the Carbon Plant into compliance. Good news is the Hunter and Huntington units will meet the emission limits with existing equipment.

In Wyoming, the Naughton Unit 3 will reduce maximum output until converted to natural gas. All units will install mercury controls.

National Ambient Air Quality Standards(NAAQS) One-hour NO2 standard final in January 2010, compliance by 2017. One-hour SO2 standard final in June 2010; state implementation plans to address non-attainment areas due by early 2014, with compliance deadline no later than August 2017. Fine particulate (PM2.5) standard - SIP Due to EPA.

Ozone standard - expect proposal in December 2013 and final standard by September 2014

Greenhouse Gas Regulation-Greenhouse gas New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for new fossil-fueled electric generating units proposed in April 2012 at a level of 1,000 lbs CO2/MWh; to be re-proposed in September 2013 pursuant to President Obama's Climate Action Plan unveiled on June 25, 2013. EPA to publish a new proposed rule regulating CO2 emissions from new power plants by September 20, 2013, and to finalize the rule in a "timely fashion."

The EPA will publish a new proposed rule regulating CO2 emissions from existing power plants by June 2014, and to finalize the rule by June 2015. The final rule for existing sources is to include a requirement that states submit implementation plans to the EPA no later than June 30, 2016. The re-proposed greenhouse gas NSPS for new sources will set the stage for legal reviews and legal action against the proposed rule.

Coal Combustion Residuals Rule proposed by EPA in 2010. EPA action on public comments not expected until 2014. Fleet wide proxy Subtitle D CCR compliance projects are incorporated into system planning, pending final rulemaking.

Effluent Guidelines-Rule proposed by EPA in 2013. Final rule to be issued by May 2014. No proxy compliance projects incorporated into current system planning.

Clean Water Act §316(b) Rule proposed by EPA in 2011. Final rule to be issued by June 2013.

Fleet wide proxy Clean Water Act §316(b) intake compliance projects are incorporated into system planning, pending final rulemaking.

Other environmental regulations include ash storage and water discharge.

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