Dominion seeks PJM clearance for coal-fired shutdowns

The Virginia Electric and Power unit of Dominion Resources (NYSE: D) filed an Oct. 11 request with PJM to deactivate the coal-fired Unit 2 at the Yorktown power plant as of the end of 2014, said PJM’s latest updated list of pending deactivation requests.

The list, updated to Oct. 16, shows that Yorktown Unit 2 has 165 MW of capacity and is 53 years old. The list said that the grid reliability study related to this proposed shutdown is ongoing.

The only other deactivation request filed with PJM in October is for a 1.9-MW landfill power plant of JCPL. These latest requests, with some of them dating back to 2010, bring to 10,825 MW the amount of power in PJM that is subject to pending deactivation requests, with the bulk of that being coal-fired power.

Also, Dominion in November 2011 requested deactivation as of the end of 2014 of Chesapeake Unit 1 (111 MW) and Unit 2 (111 MW), and deactivation at the end of 2015 of Chesapeake Unit 3 (147 MW) and Unit 4 (207 MW). It also at that time asked PJM for deactivation as of the end of 2014 of Yorktown Unit 1 (159 MW). But, the updated list shows that on Oct. 11, Dominion asked to move up the deactivations of Chesapeake Units 3-4 by one year, to the end of 2014. The end-of-2014 deactivations of Chesapeake Units 1-2 and Yorktown Unit 1 remain the same. The list shows that PJM has completed reliability analyses under the November 2011 requests, and is currently reviewing the Oct. 11 update for early deactivation of Chesapeake Units 3-4.

Yorktown’s three generating units can produce 1,141 MW, said the Dominion website, with the 818-MW Unit 3 being an oil-fired peaker and Units 1-2 fired by coal. The plant averages 2,200 days of coal burn, the website said, which may not be that accurate a figure at the moment considering the utility’s depressed coal burn lately.

Chesapeake’s four coal-fired units and eight gas turbines can generate 717 MW, the website said. The average daily coal burn is 4,500 tons, the website said.

The company’s coal burn is down lately, as is the burn for many utilities across the U.S. Virginia Electric burned 8.8 million tons of coal in the 12-month period September 2011-August 2012, down sharply from 10.6 million tons in the September 2010-August 2011 period, according to reports that the utility has filed with the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

Retirements of coal generation at the Yorktown and Chesapeake plants are among the many elements of a new integrated resource plan (IRP) that Dominion filed Aug. 31 at the Virginia State Corporation Commission. The plan includes:

  • the repowering of Bremo Bluff Units 3 and 4 totaling 227 MW from coal to natural gas by 2014;
  • three ongoing coal-to-biomass conversions at the Altavista, Hopewell and Southampton units, totaling 153 MW; and
  • the 74-MW coal unit at North Branch, located in West Virginia, is currently in cold reserve status and is planned to be retired by the end of 2012.

In light of changing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations, various alternatives were analyzed in the IRP process with respect to the company’s “at risk” coal and oil-fired units. Coal-fired units that are environmentally controlled will continue to operate with relatively small additional expenses. The impact on at risk units in the 2012 plan includes retiring 918 MW of coal-fired generation by 2015 at Chesapeake Units 1-4 and Yorktown Units 1-2.

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.