Portland General plans biomass test late this year at Boardman coal plant

Portland General Electric told the Oregon Public Utility Commission in a June 15 update that the total collection from customers for future Boardman decommissioning costs as of May 31 was $35.4 million out of a currently estimated $70 million cost.

The Boardman decommissioning cost estimate assumed that the coal-fired plant will be retired as of Dec. 31, 2020, at which time the site will be decommissioned. Reflected in the above amounts are adjustments that increased PGE’s share of decommissioning costs for 2014 and 2015, based on PGE’s increased ownership share of Boardman and the addition of a retention/reliability labor compensation plan.

In the meantime, PGE said it is currently reviewing alternative generation scenarios for the site, with biomass test firing now scheduled for late 2015. “If it is determined that the site will be utilized for an alternative generation scenario, the decommissioning estimate will be updated and presented to the Commission,” it added.

Boardman is a 585-MW coal-fired plant located in northeastern Oregon.

Said the Portland website: “PGE has made important progress implementing a modified operating plan for our Boardman Plant, often called the Boardman 2020 plan. As part of this plan, PGE has installed new emissions controls at the plant, and has agreed to end the use of coal there by Dec. 31, 2020. The plan was approved by state and federal regulators in 2010 and 2011.

“New emissions controls installed at Boardman have reduced nitrogen oxide emissions by about 50 percent and mercury emissions by 90 percent. A final set of new controls going into service in 2014 completes planned retrofits at the plant, allowing permitted levels of sulfur dioxide emissions to be reduced by 75 percent. PGE invested a total of about $60 million to achieve these reductions while allowing the plant to continue providing reliable, affordable power for PGE customers.”

The new controls include:

  • New low-NOx burners and modified overfire air ports to comply with Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) standards for NOx. These were installed in the spring of 2011.
  • An activated carbon injection system to allow capture and removal of mercury from the plant’s emissions. This system was also installed in the spring of 2011.
  • A separate dry sorbent injection system to comply with BART standards for SO2. PGE has also switched to a coal supply that contains less sulfur. This system was installed in 2013.

“In addition to completing testing and installation of new emissions controls at the plant, PGE will engage stakeholders in a comprehensive analysis of potential options to replace the power from the Boardman Plant after 2020 — or convert the existing plant to a different fuel, such as biomass — as part of its integrated resource planning process,” the Portland website added.

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.