Dominion permits new coal handling facilities at Mount Storm power plant

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is taking comment until June 11 on a proposed air permit approval covering changes to the coal handling system at the Mount Storm power plant of Virginia Electric and Power, which is a unit of Dominion Resources (NYSE: D).

The revamped system is designed to maximize flexibility and accommodate a variety of coal qualities. Coal may be received by truck or by rail, and coal from either source may be placed (and subsequently reclaimed) from a variety of locations depending on the power station’s need. The coal truck unloading facility will be retained. The coal delivered through that system will be able to be routed either to the covered storage area (where the current blending facility is located) or to two of the four new stacking tubes to be constructed as part of this project. The current limit of 3 million tons throughput to this portion of the coal handling process will be retained.

The current coal blending area will be replaced with a covered storage area that will be used to maintain a supply of fuel that is protected from the weather. This covered storage area will have a capacity of about 25,000 tons of coal. The new rail unloading facility and the four new stacking tubes are the major focus of this project. The new rail unloading facility will be designed to accommodate rapid discharge bottom unloading railcars of up to 120 tons of coal per car. The system will have a rated capacity of 2,000 ton per hour.

As with the existing truck unloading facility, the coal delivered by railcar will have the capability of being placed either in the covered storage area or through one or all of the four new stacking tubes. Because of the current limitations on the amount of coal that can be stored in the coal yard, Dominion assumed a maximum throughput of 7.0 million tons of coal per year through the rail unloading system. This is not a change in the current capacity of the three coal-fired boilers at the facility or of the coal storage area.

The new conveyor will be installed within weatherproof conveyor galleries. Transfer points from conveyor-to-conveyor will be enclosed in chutes and contained within buildings. The railcar unloading system will be equipped with an electric thaw shed. The shed will use electric heat to thaw frozen railcars. The system for reclaiming coal from the pile will be redesigned to minimize the utilization of bulldozers for reclamation and pile grooming. A new reclamation tunnel will be constructed under almost the full length of the current pile. This tunnel will be equipped with four locations for coal reclaim, associated with each of the four stacking tubes. In this manner, coals of varying quality can be blended in the handling system without the need to blend on the pile. Following the reclamation system, the coal will be handled as it is today. The existing coal crushing and bunker system is being retained. No new crushers are planned at this time.

Said the Dominion website: “Mount Storm Power Station is the largest coal-fired power station managed by Dominion. Its 3 units can generate nearly 1,600 megawatts of electricity – as much in one hour as 160 average homes use in one year. The station is located on Mount Storm Lake in the rugged Allegheny Mountains of northeastern West Virginia.”

The plant traditionally takes coal from nearby coal mines, like the Mettiki operations of Alliance Resource Partners LP. The plant is fully-scrubbed, so it has been able in recent years to burn high-sulfur coals despite tougher clean-air limits.

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.