Norfolk Southern nears permit for gas engine to replace coal boilers at Pa. shop

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said in a notice published in the May 23 Pennsylvania Bulletin that it intends to approve an air permit that would allow Norfolk Southern Railway Co. to construct one natural gas-fired 1.56-MW reciprocating internal combustion engine and the installation of a catalytic oxidation unit to control CO, VOC and HAP emissions generated from the operation of the engine.

The plan approval also authorizes the construction of approximately 61 natural gas-fired space heaters ranging in heat input from 30,000—4,700,000 Btus per hour to provide additional heating in areas where it is not economical to provide heat through the operation of the new engine. As part of the project, three existing 80-MMBtus per hour coal-fired boilers will be decommissioned.

The Juniata Locomotive Shops are located in the City of Altoona, Blair County. DEP’s review of the information submitted by the applicant indicates that the air contamination sources as constructed will comply with all regulatory requirements pertaining to air contamination sources and the emission of air contaminants including the best available technology requirement (BAT). Based on these findings, the department proposes to issue a plan approval for the proposed construction. If, after the project has been implemented, the Department determines that the sources are constructed and operated in compliance with the plan approval conditions and the specification of the application for plan approval, the requirements established in the plan approval will be incorporated into an Operating Permit.

Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) had announced on March 27 that it has launched a $53 million energy conversion project at its Juniata Locomotive Shop that will substantially reduce carbon emissions and water usage at the 70-acre facility by getting rid of coal-fired boilers. When completed in late 2017, Norfolk Southern expects the improvements to save about $4 million in electricity costs, reduce water usage by 49.4 million gallons from steam-water recovery, and eliminate more than 29,000 tons of carbon emissions in Pennsylvania on an annual basis. The project follows a comprehensive review of work demands and energy consumption at Juniata, the largest locomotive repair shop in North America and headquarters for Norfolk Southern’s locomotive rebuild program. The facility has about 1,050 employees who specialize in heavy repairs and engine overhauls.

“This project showcases Norfolk Southern’s commitment to sustainability and innovation,” said CEO Wick Moorman. “The Juniata Locomotive Shop has a 125-year legacy of leading the rail industry in locomotive technology, and with our energy conversion project, this shop and its employees will remain an industry frontrunner in the 21st century.”

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.