New permitting at Martin Drake coal plant covers retirement of Unit 5

The Colorado Air Pollution Control Division is taking comment until Nov. 5 on a drafft air permit that would allow Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) to retire a coal unit at its Martin Drake Power Plant.

This is a power generation facility consisting of three boilers and the associated equipment for coal and ash handling. The boilers fire coal as the primary fuel and use natural gas as backup and during startup. The three boilers utilize low-sulfur, high heating value sub-bituminous coal and Drake Units 6 and 7 will use Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD)-like systems to reduce SO2 emissions. Drake Unit 7’s FGD became fully operational in May 2016 and Drake Unit 6’s scrubber is currently under construction at the time of this permit issuance, the division noted.

CSU requested a Construction Permit modification for the Martin Drake plant on May 20 to incorporate a facility-wide SO2 emission limitation under the 2010 1-hour Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) Primary National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).

CSU will permanently shut down Drake Unit 5 no later than Dec. 31, 2016, and only Drake Units 6 and 7 will be operational starting Jan. 1, 2017. A requirement for Colorado Springs Utilities to submit a cancellation form for Drake Unit 5 has been included in the Construction Permit to ensure shutdown on or before Jan. 1, 2017.

The emission limitation of 1,995 tons of SO2 per year requested in the modification is a facility-wide SO2 limit and applies to Drake Units 6 and 7 as well as all other SO2 emission sources at the facility. This permit action results in a decreased amount of SO2 emissions for the year 2017 (almost 2,000 tons or about a 50% decrease) and future years when compared to the facility’s 2015 actual emissions. This permit action also results in reduced Potential to Emit (PTE) for this facility by over 12,000 tons per year of SO2 emissions (or about a 90% decrease by 2018).

Division documents show these gross MW ratings for the Martin Drake units: Unit 5 (51 MW); Unit 6 (85 MW); and Unit 7 (142 MW).

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.