TVA to re-work coal unloading system at Shawnee plant

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Louisville, Ky., is taking public comment until June 6 on an application by the Tennessee Valley Authority for a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit on a new rail loop extension at the coal-fired Shawnee Steam Plant.

The Shawnee plant is located about five miles northwest of West Paducah in McCracken County, Ky. The project would to extend an existing rail loop approximately 4,350 feet to increase the amount of coal unloaded and construct an access road to the turnout pad for maintenance.

The proposed project would result in discharges of fill and/or dredged material into “waters of the United States” in a portion of the project area, thus the need for the Section 404 permit.

“This rail loop will facilitate the unloading of coal in a much safer and efficient manner through the use of a continuous bottom dump unloader versus the existing flip car unloader which requires the breaking of individual cars from the train and inverting them individually to unload,” the Corps said in a public notice. “In addition, the applicant proposes the construction of a 1,040-foot access road to run directly adjacent to the north side of the proposed rail loop extension from the turnout pad to Metropolis Lake Road (996) State Route. The proposal includes filling a portion of wetlands to facilitate the construction of the rail loop and access road. The  proposed project would impact 1.25 acres of wetlands to include palustrine emergent (PEM) and palustrine scrub shrub (PSS).”

Said the TVA website about the plant: “Electricity is produced at Shawnee’s nine active coal-fired units by heating water in a boiler to produce steam. Under extremely high pressure, the steam flows into a turbine that spins a generator to make electricity. Shawnee generates about 8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, enough to supply 540,000 homes. Shawnee Unit 10, which was converted to an atmospheric fluidized-bed boiler in the early 1980s, was idled by TVA in October 2010. TVA is evaluating the possible conversion of this unit to generating power from biomass, such as wood waste. … In support of recent environmental agreements and TVA’s vision of being one of the nation’s leading providers of low-cost and cleaner energy by 2020, Shawnee units 1 and four will be converted to renewable biomass, controlled by adding scrubbers and selective catalytic reduction systems, or retired by Dec. 31, 2017.”

Shawnee’s nine active coal units have a summer net capability of 1,206 MW. Construction at Shawnee began in 1951 and was completed in 1957. The plant normally consumes about 9,600 tons of coal a day, the TVA website noted.

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.