NEWS RELEASE June 2019
U.S. Coal Plant Environmental Upgrades to cost more than $50 billion
The 200,000 MW of remaining coal fired capacity in the U.S. will require an investment of more than $50 billion to meet the solid waste, groundwater, wastewater and air emission limits. The McIlvaine tracking system has profiles of the utilities with summaries of the programs and also weekly reporting in the Utility E-Alert. Here is the profile summary for Vectren.
Vectren operates the Culley and Brown units comprising four coal fired boilers. It will no longer operate the Warrick 4 plant for ALCOA.
It faces major expenditures to meet the CCR regulations. There is a big potential for pond dewatering and beneficiation of ponded flyash. Environmental improvements as outlined in the NPDES permit amended February 2018 specify that a dry bottom ash transport water system must be installed prior to December 2020, and the FGD waste water system must be upgraded to a chemical-precipitation biological system by February 2021 or a zero liquid discharge (“ZLD”) system by December 2023.
Vectren has been selling its dry flyash since 2009. Last year it started discussions with a potential partner to explore beneficiation of the ponded ash. In April 2019 the State of Indiana denied Vectren the permit to proceed with a large natural gas fired power plant. It had planned to upgrade the Culley plant and retire the Brown plant because of the scrubber problems. Now it will have to consider extending the life of the Brown units.
The A.B. Brown 1 & 2 units use sodium carbonate double alkali scrubbers. High maintenance costs of these scrubber will probably now be addressed since the remaining life has now been extended.
Each Brown unit has a separate scrubber that was installed when the plants were built in 1979 and 1986. An independent consultant conducted a condition assessment of the Brown scrubbers and concluded the alkaline scrubbers have an expected life cycle of 16 years. They are now beyond that expected useful life. Given their current condition, the consultant recommended retirement of both scrubbers within the next 5-10 years. Brown Unit 1 will be 45 years old and Brown Unit 2 will be 38 years old in 2024. The recommended replacement is one forced oxidation scrubber to remove SO2 from both units. The estimated capital cost is nearly $340 million. Along with a new forced oxidation scrubber in order to comply with the Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELG) rule, the new scrubber will require a waste water treatment system.
AB Brown Unit 1 has experienced the effects of cycling first hand as Solid Particle Erosion (SPE) damaged a turbine by-pass valve allowing foreign particles to enter the turbine causing a three month outage and a $3.8 million repair during the summer of 2016. The issue appears to have occurred in the main steam outlet header where scale appears to have flaked off the internal header due to multiple thermal transitions related to unit cycling. Turbine valves are now being inspected and changed out more frequently to prevent a similar occurrence.
A profile of Vectren has been posted to the Utility Tracking System under operator profiles. The range of environmental investment requirements are addressed but there are many pages devoted to the CCR program and challenges.
For more information on the tracking system click on 42EI Utility Tracking System