Preliminary study says West can withstand 7,000 MW of coal retirements

Shutterfly smokestacks

A preliminary technical report released Sept. 19 by the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) suggests that the regional grid could withstand an additional 7,000 MW of coal power retirements beyond what is already planned.

The 46-page technical report is part of the research that WECC is doing in connection with the EPA proposal to slash carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants.

“The recently proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan has the potential to significantly impact the Western electric generation and transmission industry,” WECC said in the introduction.

WECC notes that one of the “building blocks” of the EPA proposal is to improve the heat rate of coal units by 6%. This assumption could have a big impact on Wyoming and Montana with their huge concentration of coal-fired power plants, WECC said.

WECC stressed that the technical report is meant to serve as a research tool for Western states and provinces served by WECC. It is not meant to promote any specific policy approach.

“This is a highly complex rule for an industry that is as dynamic and challenging as ever,” WECC said.

“Western states are already taking actions to reduce emissions, prior to Clean Power Plan implementation - the effectiveness of these plans in meeting the proposed EPA goals appears to vary from state to state. WECC's preliminary analysis showed that states planning to retire carbon intensive generation, implement energy efficiency, and build out robust levels of renewable resources could make strides toward achieving the EPA goals in the next 10-years. However, some states have emission rates short of the goals in that same timeframe, despite their planned activities,” WECC said.

In June EPA published its rule proposal to have states draft implementation plans to cut CO2 emissions from the power sector 30% by 2030. The proposed rule places the onus for compliance on the states but provides flexibility in how states may comply.

The reserve margin for WECC in the United States is greater than 15% through 2020 when generating resources that exist or are under construction today are included in the analysis. (WECC also serves parts of Western Canada).

The preliminary study results suggest that removing 7,000 MW of additional coal generation would have minimal impact on system frequency response. “The minimal change in frequency response is not surprising given that 7,000 MW of incremental retirements represents only about 3.5 percent of the total generation (198,000 MW) in the heavy summer case,” WECC said.

“That is not to say that there are no other reliability issues that should be examined. WECC and other entities need to study more scenarios under various loading and operating conditions in order to fully investigate potential reliability concerns,” WECC said.

Some of the caveats that should be considered include resource availability to match current transmission infrastructure; time required to license and build any new power generation; and the need for “certain generators to be run to accommodate for resources that are difficult to dispatch,” WECC said in the report.

WECC's service territory extends from Canada to Mexico. It includes the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, the northern portion of Baja California, Mexico, and all or portions of the 14 Western states between.

This article was republished with permission from GenerationHub.

2014 Articles

Harvard Law School professor pays Clean Power Plan is unconstitutional

12/31/2014

Laurence H. Tribe, professor of constitutional law at Harvard University and former mentor to Barack Obama, said in an article last week that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is unconstitutional.

3 SKorea workers die at nuke plant construction site

12/30/2014

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Three South Korean workers died Friday after apparently inhaling toxic gas at a construction site for a nuclear plant being built by South Korea's monopoly nuclear power company, which has come un...

UMaine in business of certifying turbine blades

12/30/2014

ORONO, Maine (AP) — The University of Maine has tested its largest wind turbine blade to date. UMaine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center completed static strength testing this month of a 184-foot-long wind turbine...

Mergers, EPA carbon plan generated much attention during 2014

12/29/2014

Mergers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan, cheap natural gas and the polar vortex were among the most noteworthy generation stories of 2014.

Developer opens Ohio review for 800-MW, gas-fired project

12/29/2014

Clean Energy Future-Lordstown LLC plans an 800-MW, gas-fired power project, and on Dec. 24 applied with the Ohio Power Siting Board for certain routine waivers it needs before filing a full siting application for this proj...

New England utility exec named to Vermont PSB

12/29/2014

A woman who worked for Vermont's Department of Public Service for 17 years is going to become the next member of the utility-regulating Public Service Board. The appointment of Sarah Hofmann was announced Monday by Gov. Pe...

Brown picks aide to lead troubled California utility board

12/29/2014

Gov. Jerry Brown named a former adviser on Tuesday to be the next head of California's troubled utilities commission, replacing a regulatory chief accused of back-channel dealings with utilities. Michael Picker, a former a...

Washington state carbon emissions dropped in 2011

12/29/2014

Greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state dropped by about 4.6 percent between 2010 and 2011, led by reductions in emissions from the electricity sector, according to the latest figures released by the state. The latest...

Group wants state regulators recused from PNM case

12/29/2014

State regulators in less than two weeks are to begin deliberating a proposal that calls for shutting down part of an aging coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico that serves more than 2 million customers in the ...

Vermont Yankee plant prepares to shut down

12/29/2014

The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is getting ready to shut down. Its owner, Entergy Corp., says it is closing the plant for economic reasons. The plant in Vernon is expected to disconnect from the regional power grid Monday.

PSEG Solar to acquire Maryland solar project from juwi

12/23/2014

PSEG Solar Source will acquire a 12.9-MW solar energy facility near Waldorf, Maryland from juwi solar (JSI). The PSEG Waldorf Solar Energy Center will increase the capacity of PSEG Solar Source's portfolio to 123-MW.

PG&E discloses more emails with state regulators

12/23/2014

California's largest power utility released a dozen more emails Monday that it said showed improper back-channel discussions between the utility and top state regulators.

Indianapolis airport solar farm expansion completed

12/23/2014

Contractors have finished bringing online dozens of acres of solar panels at Indianapolis International Airport, solidifying its status as the home of the nation's largest airport-based solar farm.

French power company to pay $772M in bribery case

12/23/2014

A French power and transportation company has agreed to pay $772 million to resolve allegations that it bribed high-ranking foreign government officials for lucrative projects, the Justice Department said Monday.

Nebraska nuclear plant back online after short outage

12/23/2014

The Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant is back online less than a week after its main generator unexpectedly shut down as a precaution.

Ameren Missouri plans $135M in energy efficiency

12/23/2014

Missouri's largest electric company said Monday that it plans to invest $135 million in energy efficiency programs for customers over a three-year period.

TEPCO completes nuclear fuel assemblies removal from Fukushima 4

12/22/2014

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said it has safely removed the fuel assemblies from the most damaged nuclear reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

B&W Vølund to build waste-to-energy power plant in Scotland

12/22/2014

In a consortium with Interserve, Babcock & Wilcox Co.’s (B&W, NYSE:BWC) subsidiary, Babcock & Wilcox Vølund A/S (B&W Vølund), will engineer, procure and construct (EPC) a waste-to-energy (WTE) power plant f...

SKorea holds N-plant drills against cyber threats

12/22/2014

South Korea's monopoly nuclear power company said it began drills Monday against possible cyberattacks after online threats of attack against its plants.

PSC approves solar power project

12/22/2014

The Public Service Commission has approved solar power project planned by Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric in Mercer County.

Did You Like this Article? Get All the Energy Industry News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to an email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now

Whitepapers

Maximizing Operational Excellence

In a recent survey conducted by PennEnergy Research, 70% of surveyed energy industry professional...

Leveraging the Power of Information in the Energy Industry

Information Governance is about more than compliance. It’s about using your information to drive ...

Reduce Engineering Project Complexity

Engineering document management presents unique and complex challenges. A solution based in Enter...

Revolutionizing Asset Management in the Electric Power Industry

With the arrival of the Industrial Internet of Things, data is growing and becoming more accessib...