Talen Energy to get coal plants with various emissions issues

The coal-fired power plants that PPL Corp. (NYSE: PPL) and Riverstone Holdings LLC will put into a new independent power producer, Talen Energy, are largely fitted with emissions controls.

In a presentation that accompanied their June 9 announcement about the creation of Talen Energy, PPL and Riverstone listed the coal plants and their existing emissions controls. Notable is that the Talen Energy deal will needs months of regulatory review before it is final.

One notable fact is that PPL, and now prospectively Talen Energy, plans to “mothball” the small J.E. Corette coal plant in Montana in April 2015 due largely to the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which take effect that same month.

The Regional Haze federal implementation plan (FIP) for Montana would require low NOx burners and separated overfire air (SOFA) as well as selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) for the coal-fired Colstrip Units 1 and 2 by 2017. PPL is litigating EPA’s final FIP for Montana, the presentation notes.

Pending coal combustion residuals (CCR) regulations could require additional controls and/or costs throughout the fleet depending on final requirements.

The H.A. Wagner and C.P. Crane power plants in Maryland, which Riverstone bought earlier this decade, are switching to ultra-low sulfur coal from Indonesia (from coal producer P.T. Adaro) in 2015, which will only require direct sorbent injection (DSI) capital expenditure for Crane to meet the MATS HCl standard. Wagner injects activated carbon to control mercury emissions to achieve Maryland Healthy Air Act requirements and comply with the MATS requirements.

Crane and Wagner utilize once-through cooling water systems. Wagner is expected to install necessary equipment to comply with the EPA’s 316(b) rule.

Crane, Wagner and Corette have the only coal units in Talen Energy’s new coal fleet that lack SO2 scrubbers.

In the category of being under consideration as far as new controls, the presentation says that: new mercury controls are being considered for Brunner Island and Crane; dry injection to control acid gases is being looked at for Brunner Island 1-2, Conemaugh and Crane; and particulate matter controls are being looked at for Colstrip.

The PPL coal plants that would be put into Talen Energy are:

  • Montour, Pennsylvania, 1,505 MW;
  • Brunner Island, Pennsylvania, 1,437 MW;
  • Keystone, Pennsylvania, PPL owns 12% (210 MW) of multi-owner plant;
  • Conemaugh, Pennsylvania, PPL owns 16% (276 MW) of multi-owner plant; and
  • Montana Coal, 677 MW, includes 25% of Colstrip and 100% of Corette.

The Riverstone coal plants that will be acquired by Talen Energy are:

  • Brandon Shores, Maryland, 1,273 MW;
  • H.A. Wagner, Maryland, coal/gas/oil, 976 MW; and
  • C.P. Crane, Maryland, 399 MW.

Maryland PSC being asked to approve Wagner controls

An affiliate of Riverstone is currently before the Maryland Public Service Commission seeking approval of a combination of dry sorbent injection installation and a switch from Central Appalachia bituminous coal to subbituminous coal for compliance with MATS at Wagner Units 2 and 3, which are the only coal units at that plant.

H.A. Wagner LLC applied on Jan. 14 at the Maryland commission for approval of these projects. H.A. Wagner LLC is a merchant generator and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raven Power Holdings LLC. Raven is an affiliate of Riverstone and the three Riverstone coal plants in Maryland are grouped under it.

The projects are for two approaches, useful separately or in conjunction, to reduce HCl emissions at Wagner Unit 2 and/or Unit 3. One approach is to use dry sorbent injection (DSI), a proven add-on control technology, to enable other existing emissions controls at Wagner to remove more acid gas from the combustion stream. The second approach is the combustion of subbituminous coal, either by itself or blended with bituminous coal.

“The content and characteristics of subbituminous coals are such that less chlorine is present in the coal and so less HCl will form and be emitted the boiler’s combustion than when using bituminous coals,” the application said. “The two approaches to reducing HCl can be used in conjunction, with less sorbent injected into blends containing higher ratios of subbituminous coals. Each approach also offers additional emissions reductions benefits. While the Applicant is seeking authorization for both Projects, it does not believe that both are ultimately necessary to achieve compliance with the MATS rule, and might not ultimately implement both Projects on both units.”

Compliance with the MATS HCl standards must be achieved for Units 2 and 3 by April 16, 2015. In order to meet the compliance deadline, the company requested a final decision by July 2014. This would allow it to begin final DSI system design and engineering this summer, with construction to follow shortly thereafter. The commission is on a schedule for a final decision on or around Aug. 21.

The main generating units at Wagner and their current PJM Interconnection capacity ratings are:

  • Unit 1, natural gas-fired (oil backup) unit, nominally rated at 126 MW (net), which began operation in 1956;
  • Unit 2, coal-fired unit, single wall-fired boiler type, nominally rated at 135 MW (net), which began operations in 1959;
  • Unit 3, coal-fired unit, opposed wall-fired dry-bottom boiler type, nominally rated at 305 MW (net), which began operations in 1966; and
  • Unit 4, oil-fired unit, nominally rated at 397 MW (net), which began operations in 1972.
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.