Virginia Power says it needs two Yorktown coal units until early 2017

The Virginia Electric and Power unit of Dominion Resources (NYSE: D) plans to seek a second one-year extension, to April 2017, on the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) compliance deadline for the two coal units at its Yorktown plant, due to continued PJM Interconnection need for those units for grid reliability.

Dominion noted in its Aug. 6 quarterly Form 10-Q report that in June 2014, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) granted a one-year MATS compliance extension for two coal-fired units at Yorktown to defer planned retirements and allow for continued operation of the units to address reliability concerns while necessary electric transmission upgrades are being completed. MATS took effect on April 16 of this year, and that extension took the compliance deadline out to April 16 of next year.

“Due to delays in transmission upgrades needed to maintain electric reliability, these coal units will need to continue operating until at least early 2017,” said the Form 10-Q. “Therefore, Virginia Power plans to request from the EPA an additional one year compliance extension under an EPA Administrative Order.” That would take the deadline out to April 16, 2017. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency only grants that extra year under extraordinary circumstances.

The Form 10-Q added: “In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision holding that the EPA failed to take cost into account when the agency first decided to regulate the emissions from coal- and oil-fired plants, and remanded the MATS rule back to the D.C. Circuit Court. However, the Supreme Court did not vacate or stay the effective date and implementation of the MATS rule. Therefore, the Supreme Court’s decision does not change Dominion’s plans to close coal units at Yorktown or the need to complete necessary electricity transmission upgrades by 2017. At this time, Dominion intends to proceed as scheduled, pending further action regarding the MATS rule by the D.C. Circuit Court.”

A PJM list of pending power unit deactivations, updated to July 23, shows that Yorktown Unit 1 (159 MW) and Unit 2 (165 MW) are still subject to deactivation requests that end on March 31, 2016. Said the list in an identical notation for each unit: “Unit will stay in service until March 31, 2016 to support transmission outages in area to install needed upgrades.”

Yorktown’s three generating units can produce about 1,141 MW in total. The other unit, Unit 3 (818 MW), is fired by oil. The station is located on the York River near the historic Yorktown battlefield in the Norfolk, Va., region.

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.