Great Plains Energy celebrates completion of La Cygne emissions project

Great Plains Energy (NYSE: GXP) in its Feb. 25 earnings statement marked the fact that in 2014 it completed a major emission retrofit project on its coal-fired La Cygne power plant.

In 2014, Great Plains Energy completed its three-year project to install state-of-the-art environmental control equipment at its La Cygne generating station, and has now turned its focus to start-up testing of that new equipment. The upgrade is scheduled to be completed on time and within budget and is a major component of Kansas City Power & Light’s recently filed rate cases in Missouri and Kansas. Upon completion, more than 70% of Great Plains Energy’s coal fleet will have SO2-reducing scrubbers installed.

“The La Cygne environmental upgrade is one of the largest construction projects in the history of our Company and is a testament of our ability to successfully execute large projects on plan,” said Terry Bassham, chairman and chief executive officer of Great Plains Energy.

The KCP&L subsidiary of Great Plains Energy on Jan. 2 filed a rate increase request with the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) that is needed in part due to government-mandated environmental equipment upgrades at La Cygne. Upgrades at the La Cygne power plant, the second largest coal-fired power plant in KCP&L’s system, are needed in order to comply with recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.

The environmental upgrade project began in September 2011 and includes the installation of baghouses and wet scrubbers, a new chimney to serve both units, and a selective catalytic reduction system for one unit.

Robert N. Bell, employed by KCP&L as Senior Director–Construction, said in the Jan. 2 rate case testimony that La Cygne is comprised of two coal-fired units. Unit 1, a once through supercritical cyclone coal-fired boiler, is rated at 812 MW gross. It was constructed in the early 1970s. Unit 2, a pulverized coal-fired boiler, is rated at 717 MW gross. It was constructed in the mid-1970s. KCP&L owns 50% of La Cygne. Kansas Gas and Electric, a wholly owned subsidiary of Westar Energy, controls the other 50% share of La Cygne. KCP&L is responsible for operating both La Cygne units.

La Cygne Unit 1 currently has a wet scrubber, which is original to the plant, for removal of sulfur and particulates, Bell noted. Local coal has significantly higher sulfur content, around 4-6%, than southern Powder River Basin coal at around 0.25-0.90%. As the plant was originally designed to burn 100% of the higher sulfur content local coal, the scrubber was required to meet emissions limits in effect during the early 1970s. In May 2007, a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system for NOx removal was installed on La Cygne Unit 1.

La Cygne Unit 2 currently has an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) for particulate removal. This equipment is at the end of its useful life. The La Cygne Environmental Project includes the installation of new ductwork to by-pass the ESP and to abandon the ESP in place in order to avoid the continued capital and maintenance expense to operate the ESP. ESP inlets and outlet sections must be removed for clearance of the new duct being installed under the ESP.

The La Cygne Environmental Project includes installation of wet scrubbers, baghouses, and a common dual-flue chimney for both La Cygne Units 1 and 2, and an SCR system, low-NOx burners (LNB) and an over-fire air (OFA) system for Unit 2.

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.