The Grand River Dam Authority (GDRA) Board of Directors has taken a major step towards addressing the utility’s coming generation needs. During a recent meeting, the board gave its approval to an electric generation resource plan designed to meet both the growing demand of its large Oklahoma customer base as well as new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The plan would allow for an increase in both GRDA’s natural gas and wind generation capacity. Together, that capacity would eventually replace the output from Unit 1 at the GRDA coal-fired power complex. That unit has been in operation since 1982 and has paired with Unit 2 at the facility to provide the bulk of GRDA’s electric generation for three decades.
Remaining coal generation will come from Unit 2 following a project to retrofit/upgrade its air quality control equipment. In operation since 1985, the unit is already equipped with the state’s only flue-gas desulfurization (scrubber) to remove sulfur emissions following the coal combustion process. The scrubber will remain in service through the upgrade effort and GRDA will convert other existing air quality control equipment to meet the latest EPA standards. The deadline for those standards is April 2016 though GRDA is planning to have these upgrades completed by December 2015.
As its reliance on coal goes down, GRDA will be able to bring greater balance to a generation portfolio that already provides a beneficial and diverse mix of resources. Though hydroelectric output will not change significantly with the new plan, gas generation will go from 25 percent of total capacity to 45 percent. GRDA also plans to increase its wind generation from approximately 3 percent of total capacity today to 13 percent in the future.
Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. GRDA’s low-cost, reliable; electricity – produced by that diverse and beneficial mixture of coal, hydroelectric, gas and wind resources – touches 75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to Oklahoma taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir.