Golden Valley clears court approval for Healy coal unit restart

The Golden Valley Electric Association said Nov. 19 that federal Judge Ralph Beistline approved a deal between it, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Consent Decree resolves issues related to air permitting for the operation of the long-shut Healy Clean Coal Plant (HCCP), which in the 1990s got U.S. Department of Energy clean coal funding support but was shut soon after the start of initial operation due to various problems.

“This is a significant milestone in restarting HCCP,” said interim GVEA President and CEO Cory Borgeson. “We are excited to be finally moving forward in getting the Healy Clean Coal Plant online in order to be able to provide Interior Alaskans with a reliable long-term lower cost power supply.”

As part of the Consent Decree, GVEA has committed to install additional pollution controls to ensure that the plant is operated in an environmentally prudent manner. “We are pleased to be finally making major progress on behalf of our members,” said Borgeson. “In addition, we appreciate AIDEA’s cooperation throughout this process.”

With the objective of getting HCCP on line as quickly as possible, GVEA’s Board of Directors has approved funding for restart activities including soliciting proposals from engineering and environmental pollutant control firms. “Our goal is to have HCCP online and producing electricity before our contract with Chugach Electric for natural gas-fired electricity over the Northern Intertie expires in March 2015,” said Borgeson.

GVEA recently secured power for its members through a contract with Chugach Electric that will extend until March 2015, the net effect of which will reduce the cost of power for members beginning in December 2012. “We made sure that we would have gas-fired electricity over the intertie until HCCP is up and running,” said Borgeson.

Unit 1 at the Healy plant in Healy is a nominal 25-MW coal-fired unit owned and operated by GVEA. That is an older facility that pre-dated the 1990s project. Unit 2, called the HCCP, is a nominal 50-MW coal-fired unit that is currently owned by AIDEA, with GVEA acting as the operator of the unit. Unit 2 was constructed in 1997 and has not been operated since 1998-1999.

Eventual Unit 1 retirement part of the decree terms

Under the decree:

  • Upon first firing of coal at Unit 2, GVEA has to achieve and maintain at Unit 2 a 30-day rolling average NOx emission rate of no greater than 0.325 lb/mmBTU. It has to install selective catalytic reduction (SCR) at Unit 2 on or before Sept. 30, 2016, or 24 months after Unit 2’s first fire of coal, whichever is later.
  • GVEA has to install selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) at Unit 1 on or before Sept. 30, 2015, or 18 months after Unit 2 first fires coal, whichever is later. Continuing thereafter, GVEA shall has to continuously operate the SNCR so that it achieves and maintains a 30-day rolling average NOx emission rate of no greater than 0.20 lb/mmBTU until GVEA either retires Unit 1 or installs an SCR at Unit 1.
  • On or before Dec. 31, 2022, GVEA shall elect to retire Unit 1 or install and operate an SCR at Unit 1 (or an alternative control technology approved by EPA). If GVEA elects to retire Unit 1, it has to retire Unit 1 by no later than Dec. 31, 2024.
  • Commencing on the day that Unit 2 first fires coal, and continuing thereafter, GVEA has to continuously operate the existing spray dry absorber (SDA) on Unit 2 so that it achieves and maintains a 30-day rolling average SO2 emission rate of no greater than 0.10 lb/mmBTU.
  • Commencing Sept. 30, 2015, or 18 months after Unit 2 first fires coal, whichever is later, and continuing thereafter, it has to continuously operate the existing dry sorbent injection (DSI) at Unit 1 so that it achieves and maintains a 30-day rolling average SO2 emission rate of no greater than 0.30 lb/mmBTU.
  • There are also requirements for continous operation of existing baghouses at both Units 1 and 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.