Coal Being Retired at Iconic Kodak Plant in New York

The last coal-fired power plant in the Rochester, New York, area—and one of just three remaining coal-fired plants in the entire state—received its last load of coal this week. The plant, which serves the Eastman Business Park anchored by Eastman Kodak, is being converted to burn natural gas.

The former Kodak Park plant operated at its peak in the 1990s, generating 200 MW of power. RED, a Chicago, Illinois-based company, bought the park’s utilities from Kodak in 2013, then sold the assets to another Illinois-based company—Ironclad Energy Partners—in 2016. The power plant and other utility equipment at the park is operated by Recycled Energy Development.

Dolores Kruchten, president of the Eastman Business Park, told WXXI News that “We’ve got another 50 plus years to operate on this [site] so it gives us confidence in the stability of the power generation as well as green energy, greener energy than we had and cost efficiencies. Our emissions [are] going down by 50 percent, and the overall efficiency of the system will be improved, because now, we’ll be able to modulate the boilers for the demand that we have, which we didn’t have that capability with the coal boilers.”

The final 100-ton load of coal is expected to keep the industrial plant’s last coal-fired unit operating until March 18. The phased-in conversion of the plant to natural gas began in December 2017. The plant supplies power for Eastman Kodak and dozens of other industrial tenants in the business park.

The old smokestacks at the plant, which rise up to 400 feet high, will remain in place at the site, and one will remain in use, along with the new, smaller stacks for the gas plant. An official with the business park said the plant used 300,000 tons of coal last year, and likely received double that amount during the peak of operation in the 1990s.

After Kodak, the only two coal-fired plants remaining in operation in New York are the Cayuga Operating Co. facility in Lansing, and the 675-MW Kintigh Generating Station owned by Somerset Operating Co. in Barker, near Lake Ontario. Cayuga Operating Co. already is developing an 18-MW solar farm at its Lansing site. The company has said no decision has been made on the future of the coal plant.

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine)