Another Air Quality Project Breaks Ground at Columbia Energy Center

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By Editors of Power Engineering

Alliant Energy officially broke ground on the planned air quality control project at the 1,023-MW coal-fired Columbia Energy Center in Pardeeville, Wisconsin.

Alliant, along with Wisconsin Public Service and Madison Gas and Electric, plan to install a selective catalytic reduction system at Unit 2 at a cost of $110 million. Construction will last through the end of 2018.

When the installation is finished, the SCR system should reduce nitrogen oxides by at least 50 percent.

The project is just one in a flurry of upgrades and air-quality controls to be installed in recent years. Two years ago, Columbia Energy Center received a $589 million air quality control system that reduced sulfur dioxide by 94 percent and mercury by greater than 90 percent. That system was engineered and constructed by Black & Veatch, and was the company’s largest EPC project at the time.

Additionally, in the recent past the plant’s owners have replaced its cooling tower with a larger one that improves heat rejection and efficiency in the summer, and have upgraded its water treatment facilities with a condensate polisher that improves air heater seals. Those two upgrades aim for a 10 percent reduction in heat rate.

An ongoing $140 million project will remove 50 to 75 percent of the remaining nitrogen dioxide in the flue gas. Unit 2 also received a turbine replacement this spring to take care of stress corrosion cracking, with Unit 1 to receive a similar upgrade in spring 2017.

Alliant noted the air improvement projects are part of an overall move to cleaner energy, which includes retiring older, less efficient facilities and building a $700 million, 700-MW natural gas-fueled expansion to its Riverside Energy Center. That project broke ground last month. 

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