TAMA Power on April 22 filed an application with the Alberta Utilities Commission for approval of its 856 MW (gross nominal) Sundance Unit 7 project, a gas-fired facility to be located at the existing Sundance coal plant.
TAMA Power is also known as the TransAlta MidAmerican Partnership, which is a joint venture of Canada-based utility holding company TransAlta Corp. (TSX: TA; NYSE: TAC) and U.S. based MidAmerican Energy Holdings. The partners in recent months have begin to lay the public relations groundwork for this project in the area where it will be built.
The 2×1 combined-cycle project will include two 267 MW (nominal) Mitsubishi 501 GAC combustion turbine generators, two heat recovery steam generators and one steam turbine generator. The company said it hasn’t picked a technology supplier for the steam turbine generator.
Sundance Unit 7 is expected to be in-service in December 2018, with a construction start in August 2015. AltaLink has been retained to do a transmission interconnect study for the project.
As for reasons for this project, one application document said: “Under federal regulations for the coal-fired electricity sector, stringent performance standards for new coal-fired units and units that have reached the end of their useful life will come into effect July 1, 2015. Facilities will be required to meet the [greenhouse gas] GHG emission levels equivalent to a natural gas facility. Per federal government legislation, generating units that were commissioned before 1975 will reach their end-of-life after 50 years of operation or at the end of 2019, whichever comes earlier. Sundance Units 1 and 2 are in this category.”
Sundance is a six-unit, 2,141-MW plant, and it is the largest coal-fired generating facility in western Canada.
“TransAlta has not declared specific dates with respect to retiring its coal-fired generating units at Sundance and Keephills,” the filing added. “Since government regulations have a provision for coal facilities to meet the GHG emission levels equivalent to that of a natural gas facility, this gives TransAlta an opportunity to explore other options for its coal-fired generating units, including carbon capture and storage and other GHG controls. In addition, the Keephills 3 plant is a new facility, commissioned in 2011. Given TransAlta’s ongoing operation of the Sundance and Keephills units for several decades, including the Highvale Mine, TransAlta will continue to provide long-term stable employment in the region.”
The older Keephills plant, dating from the early 1980s, is a two-unit facility with 792 MW of capacity. The new Keephills Unit 3 has 463 MW of capacity.