Coal-fired Edwards Unit 1 in Illinois looks to be a goner at the end of this year

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator is pulling the plug on the coal-fired Unit 1 at the E.D. Edwards power plant in Illinois, telling the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in an Oct. 21 notice that a grid support deal for the unit will be terminated at the end of this year.

MISO filed a notice of termination of a System Support Resources (SSR) Agreement by and between Illinois Power Marketing Co. (IPM) and MISO (called the “Second Restated SSR Agreement”). The Second Restated SSR Agreement provided for the continued availability of Edwards Unit 1 while grid fixes were made that would allow it to shut.

Edwards Unit 1 is an approximately 90-MW coal fired steam boiler located in Bartonville, Illinois. Other coal units at the plant are not affected by this situation.

AmerenEnergy Resources Generating Co. had submitted an Attachment Y Notice to MISO to retire Edwards 1, effective Dec. 31, 2012. MISO, in collaboration with Ameren, completed an analysis of the retirement of Edwards 1, and MISO notified Ameren of SSR status in December 2012. The analysis concluded that the proposed retirement of Edwards 1 would result in violations of specific applicable Ameren Transmission Co. planning criteria during peak load conditions until the completion of transmission reinforcements that include the 345-kV Maple Ridge-Fargo line and Maple Ridge Substation. As a result, MISO designated Edwards 1 an SSR Unit until such time as appropriate alternatives can be implemented to mitigate reliability issues.

In December 2, 2013, Illinois Power Holdings acquired several Ameren Corp. subsidiaries, including AmerenEnergy Resources Generating. According to the terms of the Restated SSR Agreement, MISO again gave notice (Sept. 25, 2014) that Edwards 1 would be designated for service as a SSR Unit for 2015. The Second Restated SSR Agreement for Edwards 1 was the subject of a commission order on March 31, 2015.

In consultation with Ameren Transmission, MISO recently determined that the last of the transmission reliability projects needed to permit the retirement of Edwards 1 remains on schedule for completion by June 1, 2016, to meet the peak conditions for which Edwards 1 was designated a SSR Unit. On Sept. 24, 2015, MISO transmitted a Letter of Termination to the power company that says Edwards 1 will not be placed on another SSR Agreement beyond the current agreement period (which ends Dec. 31, 2015).

Dynegy (NYSE: DYN) in a Jan. 12 announcement made it official that it plans to retire in 2016 the coal-fired Unit 1 at Edwards. Dynegy Managing Director of Regulatory Affairs Dean Ellis said in a Jan. 20 interview with GenerationHub that the 2016 retirement timeline for the unit is based on when MISO can make the needed grid fix.

Illinois Power Holdings (a subsidiary of Dynegy) announced Jan. 12 a voluntary Memorandum of Agreement, executed with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), that will reduce allowable emissions of SO2 from the E. D. Edwards plant by more than 90%. Ellis said that since that agreement is based on a lbs/hour SO2 emission rate, not an overall tonnage reduction level, the retirement of Unit 1 plays no part in complying with the agreement.

Under this agreement aqnnounced in January, Edwards will continue to utilize low-sulfur coal, or other low-sulfur fuels, to reduce SO2 emissions. Ellis said that generally means continued firing of Powder River Basin coal, though options are continually being evaluated for gas co-firing and outright switching to natural gas at the plant. 

Edwards Unit 2 (240 MW net) began commercial operation in 1968. Unit 3 (315 MW net) began commercial operation in 1972. Ellis had said Units 2 and 3 will continue to operate for the foreseeable future, with their power output offered into the regional market.

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.