Commonwealth Chesapeake adding black start capacity at Virginia plant

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will take comment until May 26 on an application from Commonwealth Chesapeake Co. LLC for an air permit amendment to allow the addition of black-start capability at its oil-fired power plant.

The significant amendment will allow a black-start emergency diesel generator to fire a turbine at a low operating load of 10% for up to 6 hours to power the local station. PJM Interconnection would then coordinate with the facility to bring other turbines online (by using the power from the station) to supply power in a controlled manner to the grid and restore regional power.

Commonwealth Chesapeake operates a peaker power plant, and it is owned and operated by Tyr Energy based in Overland Park, Kansas. The plant is located on a 126-acre tract of land in Accomack County on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The plant is located less than one mile from the Maryland state line.

The facility was issued a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit in 1996 to construct and operate three simple cycle No. 2 fuel oil-fired turbines each rated at approximately 130 MW. In January 2000, the PSD permit was amended to allow the construction and operation of threee smaller No. 2 fuel oil-fired turbines, each rated at 46.5 MW. Later that same year the permit was amended again to reduce the size of the turbines even more, this time to 43.3 MW each. In 2000, the permit was again amended to add four more simple cycle No. 2 fuel oil-fired turbines, each rated at 43.3 MW, so the total number of turbines to be constructed and operated was now seven.

“This permit application is to add an emergency startup scenario to the current PSD permit to allow the facility to assist in the restoration of electrical power following a regional electrical black out,” said the DEQ. “The facility is proposing to install a 1.5 megawatt black start diesel fired generator to bring one turbine (at a low load) online to power their facility. This would be at the direction of PJM, which is a regional transmission organization that manages the wholesale electricity in the region. Currently each of the turbines is restricted to operating at above 70% of capacity. In the event of a regional electrical black out, this emergency startup scenario would allow CCC to initially provide power to their facility. Once CCC has restored power to their facility, other turbines at the facility would be able to start up using the facility power and operate in normal operation mode, i.e., above 70% of capacity. At the direction of PJM, CCC could then feed electricity to the grid in a strategic and sequenced manner.

“The facility is requesting an emergency startup scenario which includes the installation of a new black start emergency diesel generator. Only two of the seven turbines on-site have been designated as turbines that could be used for black start capability. However, only one of the two turbines would be fired by the black start emergency diesel generator in each emergency situation. This turbine would be fired using the black start emergency diesel generator, but because the re-establishment of electricity to the grid must be done in a very coordinated and controlled manner, the turbine would be required to operate for a short period of time (6 hours at most) in a low load emergency mode (~10% load). The current PSD permit restricts the operation of the turbines to running at loads above 70% of the capacity of the unit. The facility is requesting the ability to operate the one turbine at approximately 10% load just during the initial startup of the turbine to feed power to the facility. PJM would be coordinating the manner in which the facility could bring their facility up to full power in the event of a regional electrical blackout.”

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.