NIPSCO makes progress on some coal-fired emissions projects

Northern Indiana Public Service was issued a revised permit Feb. 23 by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management covering installation of forced oxidation limestone flue gas desulfurization (FGD) systems on Unit 14 and 15 of the coal-fired R.M. Schahfer power plant.

The permit also covers selective non-catalytic reduction technology for NOx control to be installed on Schahfer Unit 15. NIPSCO had actually gotten the air permit for these projects in April 2011, with the agency on Feb. 23 approving needed revisions to that permit.

Unit 14 is a cyclone coal-fired boiler where construction commenced in 1970 and commercial operation begun in 1976. It has a design heat input capacity of 4,650 million Btu per hour (MMBtu/hr), using an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) for control of particulate matter and exhausting to stack 14. Unit 14 has a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system, and has continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) for monitoring NOx and SO2 and a continuous opacity monitoring (COM) system. NIPSCO plans to install a reagent injection system on Unit 14 by 2014, the revised permit noted. Under a federal consent decree, NIPSCO plans to install and operate an FGD system on Unit 14 by 2014.

Unit 15 is a dry bottom pulverized coal-fired boiler, with construction commenced in 1974 and commercial operation begun in 1979. It has a design heat input capacity of 5,100 MMBtu/hr, with low NOx burners (replaced in 2008-2009) and using an ESP with a flue gas conditioning (FGC) system for control of particulate matter. Emissions exhaust to stack 15. Unit 15 has CEMS for monitoring NOx and SO2, and a COM system. NIPSCO plans to install a reagent injection system on Unit 15 by 2016. Under the federal consent decree, it plans to install and operate an SNCR system on Unit 15 by 2013 and an FGD system by 2016.

NIPSCO parent NiSource described the utility’s air compliance ratemaking situation in its Feb. 24 annual Form 10-K report. In March 2011, NIPSCO filed a petition with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) for a certificate of public convenience and necessity and associated relief for the construction of additional environmental projects required to comply with a consent decree lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in January 2011.

This petition to the Indiana commission has since been trifurcated into three separate phases. In terms of Phase I, the evidentiary hearing was held at the IURC in August 2011 addressing the relief regarding: the construction of a FGD unit at Schahfer Unit 15; and a cost estimate increase for the projects approved by a December 2010 commission order, which included estimates for a FGD unit at Schahfer Unit 14 and associated common facilities for Units 14 and 15.

On Dec. 28, 2011, the IURC issued an order for the Phase I projects estimated to cost $500m. On Nov. 9, 2011, NIPSCO filed with the IURC a stipulation and settlement agreement with parties to the case resolving all issues regarding the Phase II projects, which includes all remaining projects with the exception of those projects related to the coal-fired Michigan City Unit 12. The motion also requested the establishment of a procedural schedule for a proposed new Phase III for the Unit 12 projects.

The evidentiary hearing was held for the Phase II projects at the IURC on Dec. 14, 2011. On Feb. 15, the IURC approved the stipulation and settlement agreement. The establishment of a Phase III in this proceeding occurred in response to the fact that in October 2011, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor and an industrial power customer group filed separate testimony in opposition to the proposed construction of a FGD unit on Michigan City Unit 12. On Feb. 14, the IURC set a procedural schedule for the Phase III projects.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.