PacifiCorp works out transmission issues with Carbon coal shutdown

PacifiCorp on June 21 filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission some updated information related to its plan to decommission the 172-MW, coal-fired Carbon power plant in Utah.

PacifiCorp has indicated that the small plant isn’t worth retrofitting with new emissions controls to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which take effect in April 2015. The utility company’s larger and newer Hunter and Huntington coal plants in Utah would keep running.

In a May 24 decision, the federal commission conditionally accepted in part and rejected in part a Project Construction Agreement between PacifiCorp’s Transmission Function and PacifiCorp Energy, effective March 29, 2013. The Construction Agreement addresses the decommissioning activities related to PacifiCorp Energy’s 172 MW thermal generating unit in Carbon City, Utah.

The commission directed PacifiCorp to revise the Construction Agreement to allocate to PacifiCorp Energy only those costs that represent typical decommissioning activities, i.e., activities that pertain only to the removal of equipment at the generating facility, and file the amended agreement and associated revised cost estimates within 30 days of the order. The June 21 filing contains that information.

One point in the filing is this passage, which shows the Carbon plant shutdown is not a dead certainty: “In the event the Carbon Plant will continue to operate with no impact to the transmission system, the customer reserves the right, upon seven (7) days advance written notice to Company, to require Company at any time to stop/suspend all work by Company pursuant to this Agreement.”

The PacifiCorp website said about this plant: “Carbon Plant was commissioned in 1954 after Unit 1 was built into the side of a 100-foot rock formation near Helper, Utah. We added Unit 2 in 1956 and today the two produce a combined 172 megawatts of electricity. We own and operate the plant. We added electrostatic precipitators to both units between 1974 and 1976, and other modifications have been added during the years to reduce emissions and increase operating efficiency. Carbon burns approximately 657,000 tons of sub-bituminous coal per year that is delivered to the plant by truck from several local mines.”

PacifiCorp said in an integrated resource plan filed April 30 with Utah regulators that it currently anticipates that retiring the 172-MW Carbon plant in early 2015 will be the least-cost alternative to comply with MATS and other environmental regulations. PacifiCorp said it continues to assess other issues, such as potential transmission system impacts, that could impact its ultimate decision regarding the Carbon plant, including the timing of retirement and decommissioning.

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.