Louisville Gas and Electric opts out of costly Cane Run landfill

With nearly all of the permits secured for a new natural gas combined-cycle unit at its Cane Run power plant site, Louisville Gas and Electric said Sept. 26 that it has withdrawn a Cane Run coal waste landfill permit application at the Kentucky Division of Waste Management.

“We are pleased to be moving forward with our natural gas combined-cycle generating unit,” said Paul Thompson, senior vice president, Energy Services. “We have done extensive analysis, and by maximizing our existing landfill and ash pond capacities, it’s safe to say that LG&E will no longer need to build the additional landfill originally planned at Cane Run.”

After studying the available space in the existing landfill, the utility decided that on-site options will meet the storage needs until the NGCC is in operation. The withdrawal of the landfill permit application amounts to a savings of about $54m, which was the estimated total capital cost of the proposed four-phase landfill expansion. A mechanically stabilized earth wall will be installed to better utilize the remaining space within the existing landfill. No permit modification is necessary for this type of wall since it does not change the footprint of the existing landfill.

LG&E filed the landfill application in January 2010 in an effort to comply with the most stringent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. Plans included a protective liner with a leachate collection system, and it was expected to have been built in four phases, based on storage need.

This latest development marks another milestone in the process of replacing part of the lost generation from the coal-fired Cane Run, Green River and Tyrone plants with natural gas, the utility said. The retirement of these coal-fired units will reduce LG&E/KU’s generating (nameplate) capacity by about 800 MW. The utilities determined that all the coal-fired units at Green River and Tyrone, plus Cane Run Units 4-6, should be retired at the end of 2015.

LG&E and sister company Kentucky Utilities had announced Sept. 4 that they are one step closer to breaking ground on the 640-MW Cane Run NGCC with the recent approval of an air construction permit from the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District. The companies had announced plans for the new natural gas unit in September 2011.

LG&E and KU already have received a certificate of public convenience and need from the Kentucky Public Service Commission, and awarded Bluegrass Power Constructors (a joint venture between PLC Industrial Construction and Black & Veatch) a contract to design and build the new $583m NGCC unit on existing property at Cane Run. The new unit is expected to be in-service by the end of 2015.

The company website shows that:

  • Three of the Cane Run units were retired some time ago. The surviving Units 4-6 have a total capacity of 563 MW (net) and they burn about 1.6 million tons of coal per year. One interesting point is that each of these units has an SO2 scrubber, which is often something that saves a coal-fired power plant in the face of tighter emissions regulations, but these are old scrubbers dating back to the 1970s and the early days of that technology.
  • At Green River, two units were retired in 2002, leaving Units 3 and 4, which burn about 400,000 tons per year of western Kentucky coal.
  • Tyrone has one 75-MW unit left in operation, which burns about 200,000 tons of coal per year.

Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities, part of the PPL Corp. (NYSE: PPL), are regulated utilities that serve a total of 1.2 million customers.

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.