Sterling Energy completes buy of Indiana coal plant

Sterling Energy Group, through its wholly owned subsidiary Crawfordsville Energy LLC, has completed the purchase of a coal-fired power plant in Crawfordsville, Ind., from Crawfordsville Electric Light & Power.

The Crawfordsville plant has existing coal-fired capacity of 24.1 MW, Sterling noted in a Dec. 31 announcement. It also has infrastructure in place for added gas-fired capacity. Sterling said it intends to evaluate the deployment of its clean coal technologies on existing units as well as adding combined cycle gas-fired capacity and the addition of a steam loop to make the plant a combined heat and power (CHP) facility.

“We’re delighted to have completed the purchase of the Crawfordsville facility and to have preserved the jobs in Indiana, while supplying the area with clean energy,” said William Harrington, President and CEO of Sterling. “We would like to thank Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton, Phil Goode, the manager of Crawfordsville Electric Light & Power, the Crawfordsville City Council, and the Utility Service Board for sharing in the vision of creating an energy park using green technologies while preserving and adding jobs.”

Sterling currently has its corporate office located in Gary, Ind., with operations in Morgantown, Ky., Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Crawfordsville, Ind. Sterling owns and operates a pipeline, an oil and natural gas field, and independently produces electricity as an exempt wholesale generator.

Deal had gotten approvals from various agencies

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management on Dec. 5 approved the transfer of an air permit for this power plant to Crawfordsville Energy LLC.

The plant consists of:

  • One spreader stoker coal-fired boiler, identified as Unit 5, constructed in 1955, rated at 175 million Btu per hour heat input, used to generate electricity. Particulate emissions are controlled by a multiclone mechanical separator. Controlled emissions are exhausted to the atmosphere through one 192 foot (above grade) stack. This boiler also has a 53 MMBtu per hour natural gas burner for start-up, boiler flame control and stabilization and opacity control.
  • One spreader stoker coal-fired boiler (Unit 6), constructed in 1965, rated at 192 million Btu per hour heat input, used to generate electricity. Particulate emissions are controlled by an electrostatic precipitator and a multiclone mechanical separator. Controlled emissions are exhausted to the atmosphere through a 198 foot (above grade) stack.
  • Coal and ash storage and handling systems, including one 1.13-acre outdoor coal storage pile with a storage capacity of 18,700 tons and a maximum annual throughput of 140,000 tons per year.

Ronald Keen, a Senior Analyst with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, testified at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission during its review of this plant purchase that, after modifications, the facility would burn pulverized waste coal, which is low-energy-value coal mined during normal coal mining operations and then discarded on site. Keen testified that the company’s proposed renovations will benefit energy generation in Indiana because, eventually, the proposed renovations will allow the facility to produce up to 100 MW.

Company works on engineering for expanded plant

Crawfordsville Energy filed an Aug. 1 report with the Indiana commission that said about updated plans for the projected capacity of an expanded facility: “Less than 75 Megawatts: Final output to be determined by engineering/feasibility study post-closing. Currently 24.1 Megawatts coal generation and .9 Megawatt Diesel Generator.”

Harrington, in October 2011 testimony to open the Indiana case, said an associated company, Fuel Streamers of Indiana LLC, controls coal reserves in southern Indiana. “We believe that we will be able to use these reserves in order to operate the plant at a lower cost,” he wrote. “Furthermore, we expect to make the necessary capital investments to the Facility to make it a viable, long-term generating asset once closing has occurred, to improve the efficiency, emissions, and economics of the Facility. These further actions will depend upon the results of detailed engineering analyses once we take possession of the Facility at closing.”

One potential for increasing the economic competiveness of the facility might be synthetic stoker coal, Harrington added. Fuel Streamers Inc., along with the Indiana Center for Coal Technology Research, has made a contribution to Purdue University to investigate the development of a synthetic binder. If this proves cost effective, the company would use the synthetic binder to create stoker size coal pellets from waste coal that Fuel Streamers of Indiana LLC has acquired.

Sterling said Nov. 14 that it had completed the purchase of Niagara Generation LLC from US Renewables Group for an undisclosed sum. The Niagara Generation facility in New York began as a coal-fired power plant in the 1990s and in 2007, USRG converted the plant to burn wood and tire derived fuel. Sterling said it intends to predominantly fuel the plant with wood, augmented by a minor amount of coal for fluidized bed solids and flame stabilization.

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.