by Bill Mardis
East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC), owner-operator of John Sherman Cooper Power Station at Burnside, is considering a $15 million project that would meet tightening federal air regulations and keep its older generating unit a viable part of the plant’s generating capacity.
EKPC proposes to construct ductwork to tie Cooper’s Unit No. 1 into Unit No. 2’s scrubber which has sufficient capacity to handle the additional emissions. EKPC plans to request a certificate of convenience and necessity from the Kentucky Public Service Commission for the project.
“EKPC is proposing what we believe is a very reasonable investment to extend the life of a reliable generating unit,” said Tony Campbell, EKPC’s president and CEO. “We believe this will benefit our cooperative, the Lake Cumberland community, our owner-members and the 520,000 homes and businesses they serve.”
Cooper Station has two coal-fired generating units. Unit No. 2, on line in October 1969, produces 225 megawatts of electricity. The plant’s first generating unit, on line in February 1965, produces 116 megawatts of electricity. The total 341 megawatts are enough to power homes in about 30 cities the size of Somerset.
Nick Comer, spokesman for EKPC, recalled that a circulating dry scrubber was added to Unit No. 2 last year at a cost of about $225 million. The construction project included a 56-acre expansion of the plant’s special waste landfill. The on-site landfill is used for dry disposal of coal ash and other coal combustion byproducts.
“This proposal for Unit No. 1 is simply ductwork, a large pipe if you will, to take flue gases from Unit 1 to Unit 2. Emissions from Unit 1 will be cleaned by the new scrubber on Unit 2,” Comer explained. He said EKPC hopes to have the ductwork operational by 2015.
The proposal resulted from a June 2012 solicitation issued by EKPC for up to 300 megawatts of electric-generating resources. In response to that solicitation, EKPC received more than 100 proposals from 65 bidders. EKPC is continuing to evaluate the remaining responses for the balance of the requested power.
Comer said he is not aware if the city of Somerset proposed to provide natural gas to replace coal as the source of power in Unit No. 1. Mayor Eddie Girdler said last year city engineers had talked with EKPC about constructing a 30-inch pipeline from nationwide natural gas transmission sources to provide natural gas as a fuel for Unit No. 1.
Using ductwork to tie Unit 1 to Unit 2 is a very affordable alternative and is the “selected proposal,” Comer said.
“Ultimately, co-op members bear the costs of any modifications,” Campbell said. “We owe it to them to ensure that EKPC complies with these new rules while continuing to provide power as reliably and affordably as possible.”
Cooper’s No. 1 represents a substantial investment, including the generating unit, as well as transmission and fuel-handling facilities. The plant is fueled primarily by Kentucky coal.
East Kentucky Power Cooperative is a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative providing wholesale electricity to 16 owner-member distribution cooperatives, including South Kentucky RECC. EKPC is the electrical source for 520,000 Kentucky homes, farms, businesses and industries across 87 counties.
The cooperative provides power through coal-fueled plants located in Mason, Clark and Pulaski counties; natural gas-fueled peaking units in Clark County; renewable energy plants in Boone, Laurel, Greenup, Hardin, Mason and Pendleton counties; and nearly 2,800 miles of transmission lines. Together, EKPC and its 16 owner-member cooperatives are known as Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives.