EKPC plans phased shutdown of Dale coal plant due to air needs

East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) said April 11 that it plans to deactivate the Dale Station in Clark County over the next year, indefinitely ceasing operations of the coal-fired plant by April 2015.

None of Dale Station’s four coal-fueled units currently meets the provisions of the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule, which goes into effect in April 2015. Compliance with the rule would require cost-prohibitive measures, the cooperative noted.

“Dale Station’s generating units are quite small compared to today’s standard coal-fueled power plants,” Don Mosier, EKPC’s Chief Operating Officer said. “EKPC’s goal is to provide reliable, affordable power to our 16 owner-member cooperatives, and it is very difficult to justify the costs necessary to keep such small units operating.” EKPC plans to close Dale Units 1 and 2 immediately and begin to explore marketing

the assets of those units. Beginning in April 2015, Dale Units 3 and 4 will be conditioned for indefinite storage.

“Dale Units #3 and #4 will be carefully maintained in place but in inactive status,” Mosier said. “Should market, regulatory or other conditions change at some point in the future to allow Dale Units #3 and #4 to operate economically again, the units will be available for retrofit or conversion, subject to regulatory or other approvals.”

Dale, located in southern Clark County, Ky., is EKPC’s oldest power plant. The plant’s four units began operating between 1954 and 1960. Together, they have the capacity to generate 196 MW, about 6% of EKPC’s total generating capacity.

In recent years, Dale Station has been operated on a limited basis due to economic factors. Often, it has been more affordable to operate other plants or purchase power from the market, particularly since EKPC’s 2013 integration into PJM Interconnection.

In addition to the electric generating units, Dale Station also is the site of electric transmission facilities, including power lines and a switchyard, which are integral to the operation of the regional electric grid. Those transmission facilities will continue to operate after the generating units are deactivated.

A PJM Interconnection list of pending power plant deactivations, updated to April 16, shows that EKPC filed notices on March 27 about the planned shutdowns of all four Dale units. In all four cases, a grid reliability analysis is underway, PJM noted.

EKPC’s other coal-fueled power plants will comply with MATS. In the past decade, EKPC constructed two of the cleanest coal-fueled units in the nation at Spurlock Station in Maysville. Two older Spurlock units and the largest unit at Cooper Station in Burnside have been retrofitted with scrubbers and other emission-control equipment in recent years. EKPC plans to tie a smaller coal unit at Cooper Station into the plant’s existing emission-control facilities.

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.