Fire presents another setback for Healy 2 coal unit in Alaska

Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) in Alaska will have a third-party conduct a root-cause investigation into a March 3 fire/explosion in the coal feed system for Healy Unit 2.

No injuries resulted from the accident although there was damage to equipment and piping, GVEA said in a March 17 news release.

The 80-MW plant was in a start-up condition operating on oil. As the pulverized coal system was being brought online, a fire/explosion occurred inside the coal feed system.

The fan that transports pulverized coal dust from the pulverizer to the boiler was the primary piece of equipment that was damaged. “Unfortunately, this fan will need to be manufactured, which has a long-lead time before it is onsite. A rough time estimate to complete repairs is four to six months or longer, if needed,” GVEA said.

GVEA promised to take a methodical and all-inclusive approach” to the accident review. Black & Veatch Engineering will assign a project manager to work with GVEA staff to see that all repairs are made.

“A root-cause analysis to determine the cause of the fire/explosion will be conducted by an independent third party,” GVEA said. Recommendations resulting from the analysis will be implemented. “The analysis is expected to be complete within the four-to-six-month timeframe referenced above,” GVEA said.

A scheduled outage was planned for three months this summer to tie in the new environmental equipment. That schedule has been moved up and will start at the end of March in order to take advantage of this time off line, the utility said.

GVEA fired up the boiler, using oil, at Healy Unit 2 last year after the power plant had been idle since 1999.

 Also known as the Healy Clean Coal plant, this facility operated briefly in 1999, but was idled due to safety and reliability concerns, GVEA said. The unit, which received Department of Energy (DOE) clean coal funding, had technical issues with some of its emissions control technology, which was considered advanced for the 1990s.

GVEA purchased the plant from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) in December 2013.

Along the way, Golden Valley won federal court approval for the planned restart of the coal unit.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.