GM permits the removal of two coal boilers at Michigan plant

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is out for comment until Nov. 1 on a draft air Permit to Install (PTI) that would allow General Motors to add landfill gas-fired generators – and rip out two coal boilers – at the Orion Assembly Plant.

The permit application is for the proposed installation and operation of five landfill gas-fired engines and associated generators (engines) for producing electricity.

This General Motors facility, located in Lake Orion, Oakland County, currently consists of automobile painting and assembly operations. These operations include various emission units that make up the assembly line and the paint shop. The plant also operates a powerhouse that includes four boilers. This project will not affect the painting and assembly operations.

The proposed installation of the five engines will be used to produce up to 8,000 kW (8 MW) of electricity for the GM facility. “In addition to the installation of the five engines, General Motors is proposing to remove two of the existing coal fired boilers from the powerhouse (EU-Boiler 3 and EU-Boiler 4),” the Michigan DEQ said in an Oct. 2 permitting fact sheet.

A 2009 master Renewable Operating Permit (ROP) for this facility, which has been updated a couple of times since then, said about the two boilers to be ripped out:

  • EU-Boiler 3 – “This is a 248 million BTU per hour (72.62 MW) heat input strictly coal-fired boiler with a steam production capacity of 200,000 pounds (90.72 Mg) per hour.”
  • EU-Boiler 4 – “This is a 248 million BTU per hour (72.62 MW) heat input strictly coal-fired boiler with a steam production capacity of 200,000 pounds (90.72 Mg) per hour.”

Two other boilers are at the site, the ROP shows.

  • EU-Boiler 1 – “This is an 82 million BTU per hour (24.01 megawatts (MW)) heat input dual fuel (coal and natural gas) fired boiler with a steam production capacity of 70,000 pounds (31.75 megagrams (Mg)) per hour.”
  • EU-Boiler 2 – “This is a 248 million BTU per hour (72.62 megawatts (MW)) heat input natural gas (NG) and landfill gas (LFG) fired boiler with a steam production capacity of 200,000 pounds per hour (90.72 megagrams (Mg) per hour).”

The permit said that all four of these boilers were installed in 1980, making the coal-fired boilers to be shut relatively new in terms of what is generally seen in the coal-fired power industry. A number of industrial companies and institutions (like universities) are removing coal boilers these days for clean-air and other reasons, mostly replacing them with new gas-fired facilities or renewable energy alternatives.

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.