New York PSC plans July 29 meeting on Cayuga coal plant options

The New York State Public Service Commission plans a July 29 information session for the public on the options for repowering or otherwise replacing the coal-fired capacity at the Cayuga power plant.

The commission has an ongoing proceeding to examine options to address local electric reliability needs presented by the proposed mothballing of two coal-fired facilities – one in Lansing, N.Y., owned by Cayuga Operating Co. LLC, and one in Dunkirk, N.Y., owned by NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG).

One alternative being examined is the conversion from coal to gas (repowering) of the Cayuga and Dunkirk facilities, with cost recovery guaranteed through contracts between the plant owners and the interconnected utilities, New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) in the case of Cayuga, and Niagara Mohawk Power d/b/a National Grid in the case of Dunkirk. Another option involves NYSEG and National Grid building transmission reinforcements to ensure system reliability should the Cayuga and Dunkirk facilities be mothballed, the PSC said in a July 12 public notice.

A public information forum will be held July 29 in Lansing, N.Y., on the options available to NYSEG to address the electric reliability concerns should the Cayuga facility be mothballed. The commission invites public comment on those alternatives in a public statement hearing which will immediately follow the public information forum.

During the public information forum:

  • the New York State Department of Public Service Staff will provide a brief overview of the purpose of the proceeding and next steps;
  • NYSEG will provide a brief description of the transmission reinforcements; and
  • Cayuga Operating will provide a description of what is entailed with repowering the Cayuga facility.

Staff, NYSEG, and Cayuga Operating representatives will be available to respond to questions from the public.

NYSEG pushing to shut Cayuga, make transmission upgrades instead

NYSEG on May 17 filed with the commission its Cayuga Repowering Analysis in response to the commission’s Jan. 18 order to look at options for this coal-fired facility. The July 12 hearing notice particularly mentioned the NYSEG report as a relevant document for public scrutiny.

The report’s recommendations are necessarily preliminary given the unverified nature of the information underlying the four repowering options proposed by Cayuga Operating, which operates the plant, said NYSEG, which controls the transmission over which the power from that plant flows.

The report recommends that the company’s transmission reinforcement alternative be adopted as the best available option. Moreover, given the uncertainty inherent in a generation option, ther also recommends that transmission planning be continued for risk mitigation until such time as any repowered generation is actually brought on line.

Since the system reinforcements necessary to mitigate the reliability impacts would not be in service until after the proposed mothball date, NYSEG determined that Cayuga would need to remain capable of operating and available for commitment in order to maintain system reliability on an interim basis, with a deal covering that having an initial term out to Jan. 15, 2014.

Cayuga presented four separate repowering options:

  • Option 1 – would repower the two existing coal-fired boilers with natural gas while continuing to utilize the balance of the existing facilities to generate electricity. The maximum output of Option 1 is 300 MW. The existing Cayuga facility entered commercial operation in the 1950s and exists today as two units with a total site output of 300 MW (net).
  • Option 2 – would repower Cayuga with simple-cycle combustion turbine generators firing only natural gas. Option 2 proposes three new General Electric LMS100 simple-cycle combustion turbines with a maximum combined output of 294 MW. The objective of Option 2 is to continue a reliable supply of approximately 300 MW of electricity to the grid and the proposed simple-cycle gas turbines offer a potential solution for this need.
  • Option 3 – is to repower the Cayuga Unit 2 with a combined-cycle combustion turbine generator, a heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) and a condensing-cycle steam turbine generator. The objective of Option 3, like each of the preceding options, is to supply a nominal 300 MW to the grid on a high-reliability basis.
  • Option 4 – proposes two new combined-cycle combustion turbine generator trains with a maximum output of 326 MW.
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.