Rural Utilities Service signs off on Healy coal unit restart

The federal Rural Utilities Service (RUS), in a notice to be published in the Nov. 19 Federal Register, said it has issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement (SFEIS) covering the planned restart of the Healy Unit 2 coal facility in Alaska.

The unit, which got U.S. Department of Energy clean coal funding help, has been shut since soon after it began operation in the late 1990s due to technical issues with some of its advanced (for that time) emissions control technology.

The SFEIS is related to RUS’s consideration of potential agency actions that would facilitate a proposal from Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) for the restart and commercial operation of Healy Unit 2, which is located at the Healy Power Plant in Healy, Alaska. Unit 1 at the plant is an older, conventional coal unit.

The SFEIS updated a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) prepared by the Department of Energy (DOE) in 1993. Healy Unit 2 is currently owned by the Alaska Industrial and Export Authority (AIDEA), but is located on GVEA land. Unit 2 is currently in warm layup and has not generated power since 2000. GVEA proposes to purchase Unit 2, prepare it for commercial production, and operate the unit for the remainder of its operational life.

GVEA is seeking administrative actions and financing from RUS to facilitate the restart of Unit 2 and for improvements to the Healy Plant, which include installing additional emissions control to both Unit 1 and Unit 2. Unit 1 is a 25-MW coal-fired boiler and Unit 2 is a 50-MW coal-fired boiler that was constructed in the late 1990s with funding from DOE and AIDEA.

“RUS has considered and concurred with GVEA’s purpose and need for the proposal to restart Unit #2, and RUS has evaluated the potential impacts of this proposal on the human environment and finds that the SFEIS is consistent with Federal regulations and meets the standard for an adequate statement,” said the notice. “The Proposed Action to facilitate the restart of Unit #2 of the Healy Plant is RUS’s selected alternative.”

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.