Babcock & Wilcox wins $150m contract for Columbia air projects

The Babcock & Wilcox Co. (NYSE: BWC) said April 30 that subsidiary Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group (B&W PGG) has been awarded a contract worth about $150m to design, supply and erect environmental equipment for Wisconsin Power and Light’s (WPL) coal-fired Columbia Energy Center in Pardeeville, Wis.

B&W PGG will engineer and supply four spray dry absorber (SDA) systems, two pulse jet fabric filters, a lime preparation system, ash recycle systems and related equipment for Columbia Units 1 and 2. B&W PGG subsidiary Babcock & Wilcox Construction will erect and install the environmental equipment. Engineering work for the project is currently underway, with construction to begin in October 2012.

“B&W would like to thank Black & Veatch Construction, Inc. and the owners of Columbia Energy Center – WPL, Madison Gas and Electric, and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation – for selecting us for this project,” B&W PGG President and COO J. Randall Data said.

WPL got an air construction permit last November from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for new SO2 scrubbing equipment on Units 1 and 2 of the Columbia power plant within an air quality control system (AQCS) project. The permit said that WPL “is authorized to construct and initially operate a spray dryer absorber and a baghouse for each of Boiler B21 (Unit 1) and Boiler B22 (Unit 2), and two lime silos, and to expand the existing activated carbon injection (ACI) system installed in 2008 on Unit 2 to serve both Units 1 and 2 as described in plans and specifications dated July 29, 2011 through September 25, 2011, and November 4, 2011 in conformity with the conditions herein.”

In a November 2011 document responding to comments from company officials and outside parties on the draft version of this permit, the DNR addressed a Sierra Club complaint that the electricity needed to operate the scrubbers would be a “parasitic load” that might drive up coal usage to compensate and therefore increase CO2 emissions.

The DNR responded: “The permit application material has stated that: ‘The AQCS Project will not affect the capacity of each power boiler. In addition, this project will not result in any additional fuel consumption. WPL has also determined that the boilers will not realize an increased utilization, i.e., the increase in annual operating hours from the project will be zero.’ The applicant has informed the Department that whatever power necessary to operate the spray dryer absorbers and associated equipment may result in that small amount of power not being sent to the power grid. As such no increase in fuel usage is expected.”

WPL is a unit of Alliant Energy (NYSE: LNT), which said in its Feb. 27 annual Form 10-K report that WPL owns 46.2% and is the operator of the two-unit Columbia plant, which has a total capacity of 1,009 MW. In February 2011, WPL received approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to install scrubbers and baghouses at Columbia Units 1 and 2 to reduce SO2 and mercury emissions, the Form 10-K noted. The scrubbers and baghouses are expected to be in service in 2014.

The scrubbers and baghouses at Columbia Units 1 and 2 are expected to support compliance obligations for current and anticipated air quality regulatory requirements, including the Clean Air Interstate Rule, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, the Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology rule and the Wisconsin state mercury rule, said the Form 10-K.

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.