The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) said March 6 that it has approved a proposal by East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) to move 560,000 cubic yards of coal combustion waste to a new storage facility.
EKPC is planning to empty and restore three ash ponds at its William C. Dale generating station, which is located on the Kentucky River in southwestern Clark County. The waste is to be placed into a dry landfill at the J.K. Smith power plant near Trapp, in central Clark County.
The ash needs to be moved because EKPC is planning to shut down the last two units at the coal-fired Dale plant by April 2016 because it is not economical to retrofit them to comply with stricter federal air quality requirements. That shutdown schedule was recently delayed bya year, to April 2016, for grid support reasons. The two units, with a capacity of 75 MW each, are at least 55 years old. Two older and smaller units at Dale are already out of service.
EKPC said that once the Dale plant stops generating electricity, the ash ponds there must either be emptied and restored or reconstructed to meet the terms of a new permit. In its application, EKPC stated that it examined a number of options. Two involved reconstruction of the existing ponds, two required construction of a new landfill at or near the Dale plant, and four called for moving the ash to a landfill at another location. The utility stated that any plan that left the ash at the Dale site was unlikely to receive necessary environmental permits because it would leave the material in place close to the Kentucky River.
EKPC’s analysis found that moving the ash to a new landfill at the Smith site was $5 million to $10 million less expensive than any of the other feasible options. In an order issued March 6, the PSC agreed and approved construction of the project. The PSC also approved recovery of the estimated $26.9 million cost through EKPC’s environmental surcharge over several years.
Construction of the landfill at Smith is scheduled to begin in April of this year. Hauling of ash from Dale to Smith is likely to start in late summer or early fall and continue over 53 weeks through 2017, with breaks during the colder months.
In April 2014, EKPC made the decision to close Dale Units 1 and 2 and begin exploring the marketing of the assets. At the time this matter was commenced, and in light of the impending deadline for compliance with the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), EKPC planned to condition Dale Station Units 3 and 4 for indefinite storage beginning in April 2015. However, at the request of PJM Interconnection, EKPC sought and obtained from the Kentucky Department of Air Quality (DAQ) a one-year extension of the April 2015 deadline for compliance with MATS with respect to Dale Station Units 3 and 4 and, as a result, those units will remain operational through April 2016.