Ohio board okays pipeline for NRG’s Avon Lake coal-to-gas conversion project

The Ohio Power Siting Board on June 4 granted an application by NRG Ohio Pipeline Co. LLC for the construction, operation and maintenance of a natural gas pipeline, metering station, and regulating station in Lorain County that will allow NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) to do a coal-to-gas switching project at its 734-MW Avon Lake power plant.

The project would involve the installation of a 24-inch diameter high-grade steel natural gas pipeline, with a minimum pipeline delivery pressure of 100 pounds per square inch gauge (PSIG), that would extend south approximately 20 miles from the existing Avon Lake Power Plant, which is located along the Lake Erie shoreline in the city of Avon Lake, to a proposed supply tap location southwest of the village of Grafton. 

Noting that construction would commence during the summer of 2015, NRG Pipeline said it plans a commercial operation date of April 2016 for the proposed project, with a commercial operation date of June 2016 for the gas-fired version of the Avon Lake Power Plant, which has a capacity obligation with PJM Interconnection for the delivery year that commences on June 1, 2016.

The Avon Lake Power Plant is a 734-MW, coal-fired facility. NRG Pipeline stated that, although the Avon Lake Power Plant was originally slated for retirement by its prior owner due to the need for significant environmental expenditures, NRG Power has decided to keep the plant in operation by using natural gas as a fuel source to the plant, which would be provided by the applicant. The board’s staff noted that the project would allow the Avon Lake plant to generate electricity using natural gas, which would help to maintain a reliable supply to the electric grid.

Said the June 4 board approval: “The evidence indicates that the project is needed to supply natural gas as a fuel source to the Avon Lake Power Plant, which will ensure that the plant is able to remain in operation and fulfill its capacity obligation to PJM for the delivery year that commences on June 1, 2016. We find that the project, by enabling the Avon Lake Power Plant to remain online, will contribute to the reliability of the electric grid in Ohio and throughout the PJM region.”

This project is part of a broader NRG program of fuel converisons for clean-air compliance. Up for coal-to-gas conversions by summer 2016 are these former GenOn plants/units: Avon Lake Units 7 and 9; New Castle Units 3-5, Pennsylvania; Shawville Units 1-4, Pennsylvania; and Dunkirk, New York. Portland Units 1-2 in Pennsylvania are due for coal-to-oil conversions on the same timeline.

Other NRG plants up for conversion are:

  • Big Cajun II Unit 2, Louisiana, 575 MW, coal-to-gas conversion, commercial in summer 2015; and
  • Joliet Units 6-8, Illinois, 1,326 MW, coal-to-gas conversion, commercial in summer 2016.
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.