Unit 4/6 at the Lake Road power plant in Missouri is due to fire its last coal in April of this year, and will after that be fired largely with natural gas, said Tim M. Rush, employed by Kansas City Power & Light as Director, Regulatory Affairs.
Rush supplied support testimony for a Feb. 23 rate case application by KCP&L sister company KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations at the Missouri Public Service Commission.
“Unit 4/6 is an electric generating unit with a net rating of 96.8 MW located in KCP&L’s GMO territory at its Lake Road Generating Station in St. Joseph, MO,” Rush said. “Unit 4/6 is comprised of Turbine-Generator 4 and Boiler 6. Currently, Boiler 6 is capable of full load on coal or natural gas, with coal being the primary fuel. The boiler can be co-fired with a combination of these two fuels.
“To comply with upcoming environmental regulations we have decided to cease burning coal on April 15, 2016. At that time we will change to natural gas as our primary fuel. Additionally, fuel oil capability will be added to the boiler as a back-up fuel, which will primarily be used during the winter season when gas availability can be limited. The driver for switching Unit 4/6 from coal to natural gas was a combination of existing and expected future environmental regulations. The first regulation impacting the decision to switch the boiler to natural gas was EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS).”
The Lake Road Plant provides electric generation serving GMO with multiple units which burn coal, natural gas and fuel oil. The plant also serves industrial steam customers that take steam service from the Lake Road 900 lb. side of the plant. The 900 lb. side of the plant consists of six boilers, numbered 1 through 5 and 8. Boiler 5 is capable of burning coal, natural gas or fuel oil. Boilers 1 through 4 and 8 can burn either natural gas or fuel oil. The 900 lb. side also produces electricity from three electric turbines supported by the above mentioned boilers.
Lake Road also has an 1800 lb. system that consists of one boiler and one turbine. The 1800 lb. system is capable of burning coal, natural gas or fuel oil. The remainder of the plant is made up of three combustion turbines. The company will cease operation of the 1800 lb. system on coal in June of this year to help in compliance with the EPA requirements. This change in operations will have a significant impact on the overall operations of the plant and is one of the reasons for changing the method for allocating costs at the Lake Road Plant between the industrial steam and electric jurisdictions, Rush noted.
“Outside influences to the operations of the Lake Road Generating Station in recent years have changed how the units at the Lake Road Plant are dispatched for electricity,” Rush explained. “Some of these drivers are the increased use of wind generation in the area, abundance of natural gas along with lower gas prices and the Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) launch of the Integrated Marketplace required by FERC on March 1st 14 of 2014.
“Current electric dispatching by the SPP for the 900 lb. side is typically for, peak generation, ancillary services and spinning reserve. When the units are online, they are operated at low loads. This results in multiple turbines and boilers being operated at low loads to cover the potential for full load generation. The Company has determined that due to the way that SPP is dispatching the 900 lb. side, that the current steam demand allocation factor should be changed to reflect how the plant is now being utilized. Currently the 900 lb. steam demand allocation factor is based on a percentage of maximum steam sales over the sum of maximum steam sales and generation. The maximum steam sales and generation includes sales to industrial steam customers and electric generation on the 900 lb. side.
“With the changes at Lake Road and the SPP environment, a more accurate method to determine the 900 lb. steam demand allocation factor should consider the maximum steam sales demand and the electric demand capability of the steam turbines. By taking the maximum steam sales demand in the summer and dividing the sum of the maximum steam sales demand in the summer and the capability of the steam turbines demand for electric generation, the percentage would be representative of the percent of steam demand for the 900 lb. side. This method will better reflect how the 900 lb. plant is currently maintained and operated and better recognized the potential for full load generation.”
In companion Feb. 23 testimony, Wm. Edward Blunk, KCP&L’s Generation Planning Manager, said about Lake Road: “Currently, Boiler 6 which supports Turbine-Generator Unit 4 is capable of full load on coal and/or natural gas, with coal being the primary fuel. In April we will stop burning coal in Boiler 6 and change to natural gas as our primary fuel with fuel oil as the back-up fuel. Boiler 5 which supports the steam system and Turbine-Generator Units 1, 2, and 3 will continue to burn coal. Boiler 5’s coal requirements are only a fraction of what Boiler 6 typically consumed. Consequently, the level of coal inventory needed for Lake Road will drop substantially. Because the coal for Boiler 5 can serve both electric and steam customers, we have apportioned the coal inventory required for Boiler 5 between steam and electric services.”