EKPC to remove coal ash as it shuts Dale plant in 2015

East Kentucky Power Cooperative, while getting ready to deactivate its coal-fired Dale power plant in 2015, is also planning to remove coal ash stored at the plant site and transport it to a permitted coal ash landfill at another of its Clark County power plants.

Beginning in 2015, EKPC plans to excavate the ash and transport it by truck to its Smith Station, a 3,270-acre power plant site in Trapp, Ky., in southeastern Clark County.

“This plan will remove coal ash from close proximity to the Kentucky River,” said Don Mosier, EKPC’s chief operating officer, in a Sept. 10 statement. “We believe this is the most cost-effective, least risky and most environmentally prudent option for managing the ash stored at Dale Station.”

The coal ash at Dale is stored in two ash ponds and a coal ash storage area. Dale is located in Ford, Ky., approximately 10 miles southwest of Winchester, Ky. Most of the power plant site was constructed within the 100-year floodplain of the Kentucky River.

Within its 3,270 acres, Smith Station provides ample buffer between the landfill and neighboring properties, the cooperative noted. Smith Station is the site of EKPC’s natural gas-fueled units. The newly permitted landfill at Smith Station is engineered to comply with current special waste regulations and will include such features as a final protective cap and liner system.

EKPC on Sept. 8 requested the approval of the Kentucky Public Service Commission to build the permitted landfill at Smith Station and to recover the cost of building the landfill and moving the coal ash.

Excavation and hauling of ash is planned begin in late summer 2015 and continue until late 2017. Work is planned to take place from late spring through autumn. The cost to remove and transport the ash and to construct the special waste landfill at Smith Station is estimated at about $27m.

Dale has been in operation since the 1950s and is EKPC’s oldest power plant. The plant will be deactivated in April 2015 as stringent federal environmental regulation take effect for coal-fueled power plants. The Dale property will continue to be an important asset for EKPC. The property is the site of electric transmission facilities, including transmission lines and a substation, which must continue to operate after the generating units are deactivated.

Dale is a 200-MW plant dating back to the 1950s

Dale Units 1 and 2, each rated at 25 MW, were commissioned in 1954. Dale Units 3 and 4, each rated at 75 MW, were commissioned in 1957 and 1960, respectively. The total rated generating capacity at Dale is 200 MW. EKPC’s Smith Station has nine gas-fired combustion turbines with a net generating capacity of 784 MW in the summer and 1,032 MW in the winter.

Said EKPC’s Sept. 8 filing with the PSC: “[A]s a result of very stringent federal environmental regulations for coal-fired generation, EKPC finds itself saddled with the unenviable task of decommissioning Dale as an active generating station. This will require EKPC to address three very important issues: (1) what to do with Dale’s Power Block since there might be certain key components which could be marketable to both domestic and foreign buyers; (2) after all salvageable components are removed from the Power Block, whether the remaining brick and mortar facilities should be secured in place or demolished; and, (3) what to do with approximately 560,000 cubic yards of coal ash resulting from the operation of the plant which is currently stored on the property, primarily in impoundments adjacent to the Kentucky River. It is this last issue which necessitates the Project and the filing of this Application.”

Estimates have been made for the volume of ash in Ponds 2, 3, and 4 from site records and core drillings, the cooperative told the commission. Actual amounts may vary and removal depths will be finally determined in the field during actual removal. Also, there are two structural fills using coal ash on the Dale site that are included in the 560,000 cubic yards estimate which are not currently planned for removal as part of the project.

Coal ash, also referred to as Coal Combustion Residuals or Coal Combustion By-Products, is the material left over from the combustion of coal in a power plant. Dale’s coal ash includes fly ash, bottom ash, and boiler slag. The vast majority of coal ash produced at Dale and placed in its ash ponds is bottom ash and fly ash. It is estimated that about 20% is bottom ash and 80% is fly ash. Boiler slag and other constituents make up less than 1% of the volume of coal ash in the Dale ponds.

EKPC is a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative providing wholesale electricity to 16 owner-member distribution cooperatives. EKPC provides power through coal-fueled plants located in Mason, Clark and Pulaski counties; natural gas-fueled peaking units in Clark County; renewable energy plants in Boone, Laurel, Greenup, Hardin, Mason and Pendleton counties; and nearly 2,800 miles of transmission lines.

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.