Duke to test PRB, western bituminous coal blend at Crystal River

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection began taking comment on June 14 on a draft approval for Progress Energy Florida (PEF) to test new coals at Units 1 and 2 of the Crystal River power plant.

Units 1 and 2 are older, smaller units that would likely close by 2016 without the new emissions reductions represented by this project. The coal-fired Crystal River Units 4 and 5 are bigger, newer and have gotten new emissions controls that should allow them to keep operating over the long term. Unit 3 is a shut and about to be permanently decommissioned nuclear facility.

Units 1 and 2 are tangentially-fired, dry bottom pulverized coal-fueled boilers with gross capacity ratings of 440.5 MW and 523.8 MW, respectively. The units commenced commercial operation in 1966 and 1969, respectively.

“The test burn program conducted on units 1 and 2 at the Crystal River Energy Complex is an attempt to reduce overall emissions such as particulate matter, acid gases, and mercury,” said a DEP permit document. “The results of the test burn program will determine the potential for units 1 and 2 to comply with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). New coal and coal blends consisting up to 40 percent Powder River Basin (PRB) coal with 60 percent West Bituminous (WB) will be fired in the boilers. The test burn program will also have additional temporary post combustion controls such as hydrated lime injection and activated carbon injection upstream to the electrostatic precipitator. The application noted coal blending will be done offsite in an effort to reduce fugitive emissions.”

Material handling and storage emissions will result from the use of hydrated lime and activated carbon injection during the test burns. The hydrated lime and activated carbon sorbents will be transported from a temporary sorbent silo to the injection points in the flue gas stream via a pneumatic system. There are two new air emission sources associated with the hydrated lime storage and two new air emissions associated with the activated carbon storage. These new sources are related to potential emissions that occur when displaced air entrains dust particles as the storage vessels are filled. To minimize the emissions, the exhaust from the storage vessels and the pneumatic conveyors are routed through fabric filters prior to exhausting to the ambient air.

PEF said that new coals are a short-term life extension, at best

In April 1 testimony filed at the Florida Public Service Commission, Benjamin Borsch, employed by the Integrated Resource Planning and Analytics Department of PEF as Director of Integrated Resource Planning and Analytics for Florida, said the company has decided to retire, not retrofit, the coal-fired Units 1-2 at the Crystal River power plant.

“PEF cannot continue to operate the Crystal River Units 1 and 2 without implementation of additional measures to bring the units into compliance with MATS,” Borsch noted in the April 1 filing. “Accordingly, the two main options that PEF considered were: (1) installing new emission control systems to reduce NOx, SO2 and mercury emissions; and (2) retiring the units and replacing the generation.”

PEF has decided that installing emission controls at Crystal River Units 1 and 2 is not the most cost-effective option to achieve MATS compliance. PEF is evaluating alternative fuel options that would allow Crystal River Units 1 and 2 to continue operating in compliance with MATS for a limited period of time. PEF plans to schedule and obtain permits for operational tests in 2013 to determine how the units perform with unnamed, alternative coals. That would be the PRB and western bituminous coals referred to in the Florida DEP permitting documents. If these tests are successful, it may be possible for PEF to extend Crystal River Units 1 and 2 operations to the 2018-2020 timeframe while still being in compliance with MATS.

MATS first takes effect in April 2015, with two one-year extensions of that deadline possible under certain circumstances.

Here are net generating capacity, plus projected capacity factors and coal burn figures for each Crystal River coal unit in 2013, as previously filed by the company with the Florida commission.

  • Unit 1, 376 MW, 11.4% capacity factor, 165,226 tons of coal burn;
  • Unit 2, 497 MW, 24% capacity factor, 459,548 tons of coal burn;
  • Unit 4, 727 MW, 67% capacity factor, 1.87 million tons of coal burn; and
  • Unit 5, 706 MW, 70.2% capacity factor, 1.93 million tons of coal burn.

The Crystal River plant has traditionally been fired with Central Appalachia coal. U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows that the plant got its coal in the first quarter of this year from these suppliers, all from eastern Kentucky origins: B&W Resources, Arch Coal Sales, James River Coal, Blackhawk Mining and Alpha Natural Resources (former Massey Energy operations).

Progress Energy Florida is a unit of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK).

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.