Pennsylvania seeks comment on air permit for Homer City power plant

Caption: Homer City power plant


The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has out for comment for 30 days from June 20 a draft air permit approval for the coal-fired Homer City power plant.

Homer City Generation LP is pursuing an Air Quality Plan Approval to allow alternative short term SO2 emission limits for Units 1, 2, & 3 at Homer City, located in Black Lick and Center townships, Indiana County. The department will hold a public hearing on this permitting on July 30 in Homer City.

Alstom's Novel Integrated Desulfurization (NID) dry scrubber systems designed to control SO2 emissions from Units 1and 2 remain authorized for installation under a separate plan approval. The following alternative SO2 emission limits are proposed for intermittent periods during Unit 1 or Unit 2 startup and/or NID system module transition:

When Unit 1 or Unit 2 is operating in startup, emissions of SO2 shall not exceed: 9,000 lbs/hr from the Unit (1 or 2) in startup; 1,913 lbs/hr from the Unit (1 or 2) not in startup; and 2,720 lbs/hr from Unit 3.
When a NID system module is operating in transition, combined emissions of SO2 from Units 1, 2, & 3 shall not exceed 7,300 lbs/hr.
Annual potential to emit at Homer City remains unchanged as a result of this proposed Plan Approval. Imposed conditions will include the referenced alternative SO2 emission limitations, operational restrictions, work practice standards, and associated monitoring and recordkeeping requirements. These alternative SO2 emission limits would be effective for up to 500 hours per year during periods of Unit 1 or Unit 2 startup and/or module transition within the NID dry scrubber systems designed to control Units 1 & 2.

All comments must be received prior to the close of business 30 days after the date of publication of a June 20 notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Homer City is a three-unit, 1,884-MW plant. Unit 3 had gotten a scrubber several years ago, with the NID systems now being installed on Units 1 and 2. GE Energy Financial Services (NYSE: GE) controls the plant, and an affiliate of NRG Energy Services (NYSE: NRG) handles operations and maintenance.

Posted to the Homer City Generation website is a Feb. 11 letter that answers a question from a bondholder about changes in the projected 2016 completion of the NID systems, with the answer being: "Yes you are correct that Substantial Completion is expected to take place on 3/17/16. However, before Substantial Completion can take place, the Unit must first complete construction and then achieve Mechanical Completion. Completion of construction is the date of final tie-in of the ductwork between the existing units and the NIDS scrubber. Mechanical Completion is the completion of construction plus a status that the Unit is ready to operate with instrument checks, electrical checks, initial fills, etc. Under the schedule currently contracted with Kiewit, Unit 2 NIDS would achieve Mechanical Completion by January 17, 2016. At that point, the Homer City Operator will take over Unit operations and a 60-day clock starts for the completion of tuning of the NIDS and final performance and emissions testing required for Substantial Completion. This explains the differences in the dates referenced in the question. We are considering another change in the schedule for Unit 2 that would extend Mechanical Completion to mid-May 2016. With this change, Unit 2 would be shutdown in advance of the MATS deadline of April 16, 2016 and would be under MATS rules when it is brought back on line. The Unit 1 tie-in schedule would remain in the fall of 2015. This change of schedule would allow Unit 2 to be available to operate during the entire 2015/2016 winter peak."

A financial statement from Homer City Generation covering the first quarter of this year said: "Construction of the NIDs is continuing to progress as planned. The total estimated cost of constructing and installing the NIDs for Units 1 and 2 of the Homer City plant is expected to be between $700 million to $750 million, which will be funded by GE Capital and contributed as equity to Homer City. Management revised the construction schedule with a new completion date to occur on or around December 31, 2015. As equity contributions are made by GE Capital to fund the construction of the NIDs, MetLife’s proportionate share of equity in Homer City is diluted on a dollar-per-dollar basis."

Said the same financial statement about an impending new rule: "Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“PADEP”) issued a “draft final” NOx RACT Rule on November 9, 2014. The rule has since been revised further. The revised rule established a presumptive RACT limit for Homer City and other coal-fired facilities with similar boilers at 0.4 lbs/MMBtu when the inlet temperature at the pollution control device is less than 600F and at 0.12 lbs/MMBtu when the inlet temperature is at 600F or higher. A final NOx RACT Rule is not anticipated to be promulgated until October 2015 at the earliest. Homer City is currently evaluating what changes, if any, to the Selective Catalytic Reduction systems on Units 1 and 2 will need to be made to meet these limits."

This article was republished with permission from

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