Duke Energy Ohio assesses impacts of various EPA rules

No additional emissions control installations are planned right now by Duke Energy Ohio to meet Cross-State Air Pollution Control (CSAPR) requirements, with the utility planning to comply through allowance purchases, expanded use of low-sulfur coal, power purchases and other, unnamed options.

Duke Energy Ohio outlined those options in bare form in a latest version of an annual environmental compliance plan that was filed April 16 at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. The utility noted that the state of Ohio will probably come out at some point with a state implementation plan (SIP) based on CSAPR. The CSAPR rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is, by the way, under appeal by various parties at a federal appeals court and is not currently in effect.

As for EPA’s recently-installed Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which have an initial compliance deadline of April 2015, the primary impact is that it may force the retirement of the units at the Beckjord power plant, Duke Energy Ohio wrote.

To reduce CO2 emissions, parent Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) is broadly pursuing a number of options, including enhanced nuclear generation and construction of the 618-MW Edwardsport integrated gasification combined cycle coal project in Indiana that is expected to be operational this year. The Edwardsport IGCC could be the site of future CO2 capture, with geologic formations nearby identified as permanent CO2 repositories. Duke is also hosting a geologic CO2 storage demonstration project at the East Bend plant in Kentucky where CO2 has already been successfully injected into the Mt. Simon saline reservoir.

In the nuclear arena, Duke Energy Ohio said that Duke Energy has sought NRC approval for a two-unit, 2,234-MW nuclear plant in Cherokee County, S.C. While Duke Energy has not committed to building the Cherokee County project at this point, this application does keep its nuclear options open for the future, the subsidiary said.

Other issues include EPA’s long-pending rule under Clean Water Act 316(b) that would require changes in cooling water intake structures at power plants. The final rule is expected to be out in July, with an assumed three-year deadline for compliance. It isn’t clear right now what impact this rule will have on Duke Energy Ohio’s power plants.

Another long-pending EPA rule covers disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCRs), including coal ash and SO2 scrubber waste. In June 2010, EPA proposed two possible sets of rules, one classifying this material as regular waste, and another classifying it as toxic waste. The likely impacts of this proposal would include more dry handling of ash, more landfills, the closure or protective lining of existing ash disposal sites, and the addition of new wastewater treatment systems. Whether EPA picks the toxic or non-toxic regulatory option is a key to the impact of this rule, Duke Energy Ohio noted.

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.