Dynegy agrees to emissions reductions for Edwards coal plant in Illinois

Dynegy (NYSE: DYN) has made it official that it plans to retire in 2016 the coal-fired Unit 1 at the Edwards power plant in Illinois, though that retirement is not linked to a recent clean-air deal with state regulators.

Unit 1 lately has lived on System Support Resource (SSR) agreements from the Midcontinent ISO that keep the unit open while compensating grid upgrades are made. Dynegy had initially told MISO it planned to shut the unit in 2012. Dynegy Managing Director of Regulatory Affairs Dean Ellis said in a Jan. 20 interview with GenerationHub that the 2016 retirement timeline for the unit is based on when MISO can make the needed grid fix.

Illinois Power Holdings (a subsidiary of Dynegy), along with Illinois State Senator David Koehler and Illinois State Representative Mike Unes, announced Jan. 12 a voluntary Memorandum of Agreement, executed with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), that will reduce allowable emissions of SO2 from the E. D. Edwards plant by more than 90%. The agreement, already effective, will help the Greater Peoria area comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 1-hour SO2 National Ambient Air Quality Standard.

Ellis said that since that agreement is based on a lbs/hour SO2 emission rate, not an overall tonnage reduction level, the retirement of Unit 1 plays no part in complying with the agreement.

“We are committed to the Greater Peoria communities and the environment, and are proud of our contributions to the economic vitality of our communities,” said Ted Lindenbusch, Plant Managing Director at Edwards, in the Jan. 12 announcement. “We are voluntarily taking environmentally sound steps forward and continuing to provide the jobs that are vital to the economic livelihoods of the families and communities we serve.”

Under this agreement, Edwards will continue to utilize low-sulfur coal, or other low sulfur fuels, to reduce SO2 emissions. Ellis said that generally means continued firing of Powder River Basin coal, though options are continually being evaluated for gas co-firing and outright switching to natural gas at the plant. Emissions from the station have been dramatically reduced over the past 10 years. SO2 emissions have gone down by 80% since 2004 and NOx output has declined by 68%.

Said Unes: “Edwards is an important part of our community, providing not only energy, but also high quality jobs and $82 million in total economic activity that powers our communities. I applaud this proactive environmental strategy by Dynegy and for their willingness to further commit to our regional economy in Central Illinois.”

Dynegy has previously taken active steps to reduce its environmental impact, investing $2bn in environmental controls in facilities across Illinois and recently announcing a goal to recycle 100% of coal combustion by-products by 2020.

“By taking another step in this commitment, Dynegy is ensuring that the Peoria area is quickly moving toward attainment of federal standards,” said Koehler. “As a responsible community partner and neighbor, Dynegy is committed to working with the Greater Peoria community.”

Edwards Unit 1 is a 90-MW coal-fired steam boiler located in Bartonville, Illinois. Edwards Unit 2 (240-MW net) began commercial operation in 1968. Unit 3 (315-MW net) began commercial operation in 1972. Ellis said Units 2 and 3 will continue to operate for the foreseeable future, with their power output offered into the regional market.

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.