Georgia Power in last stages of MATS compliance projects at coal plants

Georgia Power told the Georgia Public Service Commission in a quarterly update filed Sept. 1 that it is in the closing stages of various air emissions projects involved coal-fired capacity.

The PSC’s final order in the utility’s 2013 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) required these quarterly compliance reports regarding the environmental controls and fuel switches approved by the commission. The projects by plant are:

  • Baghouses, Plant Bowen Units 3 and 4;
  • Activated Carbon Injection (ACI) and Alkali Sorbent Injection (ASI), Plant Bowen Units 1-4, Plant Hammond Units 1-4 and Plant Wansley Units 1 and 2;
  • ACI and Dry Sorbent Injection (DSI), Plant McIntosh Unit 1;
  • Bromide Systems, Plant Scherer Units 1-3; and
  • Fuel switch from coal to natural gas as the primary fuel, Plant Gaston Units 1-4, Plant Yates Units 6 and 7

A summary of work performed since the last quarterly report is:

  • Plant Bowen Units 1 and 2 – The Units 1 and 2 ALK and ACI systems have been placed in service. The Units 1 and 2 precipitator work is complete. Mercury Re-emission Control (MRC) silos have been erected and startup of systems is anticipated by the end of the third quarter of 2016.
  • Plant Bowen Units 3 and 4 – The Unit 4 baghouse was placed in service on Feb. 21, 2016. Performance guarantee testing for the Unit 3 baghouse and final site restoration activities are scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2016. The Unit 3 ALK, Unit 4 ALK, Unit 3 ACI, and Unit 4 ACI systems are complete.
  • Plant Gaston Units 1-4 – Valve work continues in the gas conditioning station. Units 1, 2, 3 and 4 have all completed their tie-in outages, are available on gas or coal and have achieved commercial operation as follows: Unit 1 – Dec. 12, 2015; Unit 2 – Dec. 8, 2015; Unit 3 – Dec. 22, 2015; and Unit 4 – July 8, 2015.
  • Plant Hammond Units 1-4 – The Units 1-4 ACI and ALK systems have been placed in service. Precipitator work for Units 1-4 is complete. Plant Hammond’s Huffaker Road Landfill has received a approval to receive waste from the Georgia EPD for Cells A and B. A small amount of vegetative restoration work still remains at the Huffaker Road Landfill but such remaining work does not prevent the landfill from receiving material.
  • Plant McIntosh Unit 1 – Work on the ACI and DSI systems is complete. Precipitator refurbishment work is complete. Work on the new landfill continues.
  • Plant Scherer Units 1-3 – Georgia Power has decided not to install bromide injection for Scherer Units 1-3. These units are MATS-compliant with the already existing SCR, scrubber, ACI, and baghouse systems.
  • Plant Wansley Units 1-2 – MRC systems were placed in service on May 31, 2016.
  • Plant Yates Units 6 and 7 – The switch to natural gas at both units is complete. Unit 7 was placed into commercial operation on natural gas on May 4, 2015, and Unit 6 was placed into commercial operation on natural gas on June 27, 2015.

Much of this air compliance work is being done due to the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). On April 15, 2016, the U.S. EPA finalized its finding that it was appropriate to regulate electric utilities under the MATS rule, even after considering the costs of the regulation to the industry (called the “MATS Supplemental Finding Rule”). This action resulted from the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June 2015 that EPA should have considered costs when deciding whether or not to proceed with the MATS rule. The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling was followed by a D.C. Circuit Court order in December 2015 requiring EPA to analyze the costs associated with the rule. In the MATS Supplemental Finding Rule, EPA stated that it did not receive any public comments that justified a change in its position that the costs to the industry for achieving MATS compliance are reasonable.

On June 24, 2016, Georgia Power said it joined parent Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) and the other Southern subsidiaries in filing a petition for review of the MATS Supplemental Finding Rule. They joined industry petitioners the Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG), Anthracite Region Independent Power Producers Association (ARIPPA) and Ohio-based coal producer Murray Energy in filing a petition for review. Though all affected Georgia Power facilities are already complying with MATS, the final court decision could affect current MATS requirements, as well as future regulations, the utility noted.

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.