Interstate plans pipeline to support coal-to-gas switch at Iowa power plant

Interstate Power and Light (IPL) applied Feb. 11 at the Iowa Utilities Board for an approval to construct the Ames Lateral, a high-pressure distribution pipeline that will in part serve the Ames power plant.

The pipeline would run from the DuPont Regulation Station facility in a southwesterly direction to a proposed terminus point at the Barilla Regulation Station facility located in Story County, Iowa. The outlet of the proposed Barilla Regulation Station will tie into the existing Ames 120 psig gas distribution system which will provide the supply needed to serve the City of Ames Municipal Power Plant as well as increase the gas reliability of the Ames natural gas distribution system. The proposed 2.36 mile Ames Lateral will be designed to deliver up to 52,000 Mcf/day. The nominal diameter of the pipeline will be 10 inches.

“Construction of the proposed pipeline promotes the public convenience and necessity by allowing IPL to fulfill its obligation to meet the natural gas supply needs of its existing and future customers, and to enhance reliability,” said the application. “Switching the Ames Power Plant’s fuel source from coal to natural gas will reduce plant emissions which will benefit the public.”

Said a November 2014 document from the Ames City Council about a need to procure natural gas burners, igniters, and other needed boiler conversion equipment: “In recent years, the electric utility industry and particularly utilities with fossil-fueled generation resources have been challenged by the introduction of several major environmental regulations promulgated by the EPA. At the same time, the price and supply of natural gas has improved significantly in the United States. These two factors have caused the electric utility industry to reevaluate its strategies of how to generate electric power.

“The City of Ames, with its two coal-fired generating units at the City’s Steam Electric Plant, has had to carefully assess the future of how to supply power for the City’s electric ratepayers. After reviewing the ‘Energy Resource Options Study’ prepared by Black & Veatch, the City Council on November 12, 2013 decided to convert the City’s power plant from coal to natural gas. This conversion project is required to meet future United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air quality regulations for electric generating power plants, most notably the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). Converting the power plant from coal to natural gas will require a significant engineering effort, along with the fabrication and installation of equipment, plus targeted construction to modify the power plant.”

The November 2014 document said that significant work that must be accomplished to successfully convert the power plant includes:

  • Apply for and secure a construction permit for the conversion project (plus additional maintenance projects) from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
  • Apply for and secure a one year extension of time (until April 16, 2016) for compliance with MATS from U.S. EPA Region 7 (Kansas City).
  • Apply for and secure an additional one year extension of time (until April 16, 2017) for compliance with MATS from U.S. EPA Region 7 (Kansas City).
  • Secure an adequate source of supply of natural gas to the power plant. On Oct. 14, 2014, the City Council approved a contract with IPL parent Alliant Energy to assure the natural gas transport service necessary to operate the Steam Electric Plant on natural gas.

In May 2014, the City Council selected Sargent & Lundy of Chicago, Illinois, to provide engineering and construction oversight services for the conversion project. In July 2014 the council approved preliminary plans and specifications for the Natural Gas Conversion Equipment Including Burners, Igniters, Scanners, Thermal Analysis and Computer Modeling.

The GenerationHub database shows the affected coal units – Unit 7 (37 MW net summer) and Unit 8 (67 MW net summer) – as the only units at this power plant.

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.