Empire District Electric lines up Asbury air projects for 2015

Empire District Electric is taking actions to implement its environmental compliance plan, which calls for the installation of a scrubber, fabric filter and powder activated carbon injection system at the Asbury coal plant by early 2015 at a cost ranging from $112m to $130m.

Air needs will also require the retirement of Asbury Unit 2, an 18-MW steam turbine that is currently used for peaking purposes, Empire noted in an annual Energy Cost Recovery Rider filing made on March 15 at the Arkansas Public Service Commission. “The Compliance Plan also calls for the transition of our Riverton Units 7 and 8 from operation on coal to full operation on natural gas which occurred September 2012,” the filing added. “Riverton Units 7 and 8, along with Riverton Unit 9, a small combustion turbine that requires steam from Unit 7 for startup, will be retired upon the conversion of Riverton Unit 12, a recently installed simple cycle combustion turbine, to a combined cycle unit. This conversion is currently scheduled for the 2016 timeframe.”

The company also noted that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to publish in mid to late 2014 a long-delayed Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) rule. In its 2010 proposal the EPA presents two options: regulation of CCR under RCRA subtitle C as a hazardous waste or regulation of CCR under RCRA subtitle D as a non-hazardous waste. “We expect compliance with either option as proposed to result in the need to permit and construct a new landfill in Missouri and the conversion of existing ash handling from a wet to a dry system at a potential cost of up to $15 million at our Asbury Power Plant,” the company wrote. “This preliminary estimate will likely change based on the final CCR rule and its requirements. Closure of the existing Riverton landfill is anticipated to occur in 2014.”

Empire also reported coal tons burned and total coal costs in 2012 by plant, with a total of 1.67 million tons burned at an average cost of 208.1 cents/mmBtu.

  • Asbury, 737,213 tons of consumption in 2012, 239.5 cents/mmBtu;
  • Riverton, 73,509 tons, 254.1 cents/mmBtu;
  • Iatan (share of plant), 717,355 tons, 176.1 cents/mmBtu; and
  • Plum Point (share of plant), 142,021 tons, 180.4 cents/mmBtu. The company noted that Plum Point didn’t run as hard in 2012 as in 2011 due to cheap gas-fired generation. “[M]uch lower natural gas prices in 2012 made our Plum Point coal facility uneconomical to sell into the market whereas in 2011 we made significantly more sales from the unit,” the company said.
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.