Nebraska Public Power District’s coal plants solidly in the future plan

The Nebraska Public Power District’s Board of Directors has approved a 2013 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that continues the district’s strong coal-fired portfolio into the future.

The IRP is a long-term (five to 30 years) resource planning tool identifying a preferred future mix of electric power generation and energy efficiency / conservation resources. NPPD held numerous public meetings in early 2013 to gather feedback from the public on the plan.

“Over the past two years, NPPD has received valuable input from our wholesale utility partners, our retail customers, and the public. We appreciate the interest of all who have taken the time to give us their thoughts,” said Pat Pope, NPPD president and CEO, in a June 14 statement.

NPPD’s 2013 Preferred Resource Plan, as identified in the IRP, includes an extended power uprate of 146 MW from the Cooper Nuclear Station (CNS), as well as the addition of multi-pollutant control equipment at the coal-fired Gerald Gentleman Station (GGS), if required in the future. Continued operation of the coal-fired Sheldon Station also appears beneficial, unless expensive multi-pollutant control equipment is required.

“The IRP is not a commitment to install additional resources,” said Pope. “We do so when necessary. Rather, it is a roadmap with signposts which help us reassess our direction when it comes to which sources we should use to generate reliable and economical electricity. The last two years of study have indicated NPPD should retain a diverse mix of generation resources – nuclear, coal, wind, solar, hydro, and natural gas, while also emphasizing energy efficiency with our customers throughout the state. Today, approximately 40 percent of NPPD’s energy comes from non-carbon emitting resources.”

The plans calls for increased levels of renewable generating resources and energy efficiency to meet the energy needs of NPPD’s customers, if electrical growth is higher than expected, or if significant costs on CO2 emissions become a reality. An additional 100 MW to 200 MW of new natural gas-fired generation may also be needed by 2032.

Over half of NPPD’s generation comes from coal

In 2012, 56% of NPPD’s native load energy and non-firm sales obligation was met with coal generation. GGS, a coal plant located near Sutherland, is Nebraska’s largest generating plant. GGS has two units which have the capability of generating 1,365 MW. GGS Unit 1, which has been in-service since May 1979, has a net generation capability of 665 MW. GGS Unit 2, the larger unit at 700 MW (net), has been commercial since January 1982. GGS is fueled with sub-bituminous low-sulfur coal from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.

Sheldon, a coal fired plant near Hallam, consists of two boilers that can generate 225 MW. Sheldon Unit 1, a 105-MW facility, was commissioned in 1961 while Unit 2, a 120-MW unit, was added in 1968. Sheldon also burns Powder River Basin low-sulfur coal.

Nebraska City Unit 2 (NC2) is an approximate 685 MW coal-fired unit that Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) constructed adjacent to its Nebraska City Unit 1 plant. NPPD has a life-of-plant power agreement with OPPD to receive 23.67%, or approximately 162 MW, of NC2’s output. Commercial production of electricity commenced in May 2009.

There are no existing regulations requiring NPPD to add significant SO2 and NOx reduction equipment at its facilities at the present time. But, just in case, NPPD decided to make some “what if” scenarios assuming that it was required to retrofit its units with additional SO2 and NOx control equipment.

  • Assuming NPPD was required to install added SO2 and NOx controls before 2018 and to operate beyond approximately 2023, NPPD would install long-term environmental equipment that would further reduce current SO2 and NOx emissions. To operate beyond 2017 but not beyond 2023, NPPD would install short-term environmental equipment that would reduce SO2 and NOx emissions, but not to the degree of the long-term equipment.
  • NPPD assumed some type of carbon/CO2 regulation or legislation will be enacted. It modeled this impact as a cost (i.e., $/metric ton emitted). The CO2 cost varied from under $20/metric ton to over $100/metric ton, both in nominal dollars, by 2032. This is the largest environmental uncertainty modeled.
  • NPPD assumed modifications to existing equipment and/or additional equipment will be required for cooling water intake structures. It varied from adding fine mesh fish screens to closed-cycle cooling (cooling towers).

NPPD’s second largest source of generation, and largest single generation unit, is CNS, which was put into operation in July 1974. NPPD owns and operates CNS but has support services contracts with Entergy Nuclear Nebraska through January 2029. In 2012, CNS accounted for about 27% of NPPD’s native load energy and non-firm sales obligation. CNS, which has a net summer capacity of around 766 MW, is a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) unit. NPPD’s operating license for CNS has been extended 20 years to 2034.

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.