Golden Valley clears way for Healy restart through EPA deal

The Golden Valley Electric Association said Oct 3 that along with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, it has completed negotiating a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on a re-issued air permit for the long-shut Healy Clean Coal Plant (HCCP).

GVEA said this deal was the last major hurdle it needed to clear to restart the 54-MW HCCP plant, which was built in the 1990s with U.S. Department of Energy clean coal funding help but never worked properly. The association said it chose to pursue the consent decree option with the EPA, since otherwise there was no defined end to the air permitting process. The consent decree also avoids what GVEA believes would have been lengthy and costly litigation.

GVEA agreed under the deal with EPA to install the most rigorous emission controls available on HCCP with an estimated cost of $40m. “We’ll also install additional nitrous oxide controls on Healy 1, estimated at less than $5 million,” the association added. Healy 1 is a 25-MW, older coal unit located at the same site as the HCCP.

It also agreed to pay $250,000 to help fund the Fairbanks North Star Borough and Denali Borough Woodstove Change-out program. This will help alleviate the particulate matter problems in the Interior of Alaska. “We negotiated for a minimal payment of $115,000 to the EPA,” the association said. “Payments to the EPA are required under the rules of a Consent Decree.”

A couple of things still need to happen yet, the association noted. One is a judge’s final approval following a 30-day public comment period. And once the Regulatory Commission of Alaska gives its approval, the association hopes to have HCCP online in 18-24 months.

The consent decree does not require any mandatory shutdown dates for either Healy 1 or HCCP. GVEA’s board of directors retains full control of decisions regarding shutdown of either plant, the association added.

In 1989, the DOE’s Clean Coal Technology Program selected Healy as a demonstration plant to use experimental technology to burn waste coal. HCCP began burning coal in 1998 and generated power intermittently through 1999 during start-up testing. The plant was shut down in 2000.

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.