Empire District marks end to two coal units, expanded gas unit at Riverton

Empire District Electric Co. was providing a Sept. 10 tour for the media to review the in-progress construction on the first combined cycle power plant in the state of Kansas at the Riverton Power Plant site.

The expansion project is nearing its final phases and is expected to be complete in early- to mid-2016. The estimated cost for the project is $165 million-$175 million. Burns & McDonnell is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the expansion.

As part of a plan to comply with new standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Empire has retired two 1950s-era coal units at Riverton. The combined cycle addition will replace the production capacity of the retired units.

Blake Mertens, Vice President of Energy Supply and Delivery Operations, said: “The high efficiency of this configuration will help control fuel costs, lower emissions and ensure reliable energy for our customers. We are proud to continue a tradition of innovative and economical power generation at Riverton dating back to 1905.”

Based in Joplin, Missouri, Empire District Electric (NYSE: EDE) is an investor-owned, regulated utility operating in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Said Empire District Electric in its Aug. 7 quarterly Form 10-Q report about this project: “We have in place a contract with a third party vendor to complete engineering, procurement, and construction activities at our Riverton plant to convert Riverton Unit 12 from a simple cycle combustion turbine to a combined cycle unit. The conversion includes the installation of a heat recovery steam generator (HRSG), steam turbine generator, auxiliary boiler, cooling tower, and other auxiliary equipment.

“The Air Emission Source Construction Permit necessary for this project was issued by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on July 11, 2013. This conversion is currently scheduled to be completed in early to mid-2016 at a cost estimated to range from $165 million to $175 million, excluding AFUDC. Construction costs, consisting of pre-engineering, site preparation activities and contract costs incurred project to date through June 30, 2015 were $135.5 million, excluding AFUDC. The remaining amount is included in our five-year capital expenditure plan.

“Our Compliance Plan largely follows the preferred plan presented in our Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), filed in mid-2013 with the [Missouri Public Service Commission]. In addition to the Riverton Unit 12 project discussed above, the process of installing a scrubber, fabric filter, and powder activated carbon injection system at our Asbury [coal] plant has been completed and the equipment placed in service in December 2014. This addition required the retirement of Asbury Unit 2, a steam turbine rated at 14 megawatts that was used for peaking purposes. Asbury Unit 2 was retired on December 31, 2013.

“In September 2012, we completed the transition of our Riverton Units 7 and 8 from operation on coal and natural gas to operation solely on natural gas. Riverton Unit 7 was permanently removed from service on June 30, 2014. Riverton Unit 8 and Unit 9 (a small combustion turbine that required steam from Unit 8 for start-up) were retired June 30, 2015.”

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.