Coal to Gas Once More for Dominion

Dominion Virginia Power plans to convert its oldest coal-fired power plant, the 227-MW Bremo Power Station near Bremo Bluff, Va., to natural gas, the company announced earlier this month. The two-unit plant would be the ninth in its fleet to be closed or converted to alternative fuels.

In a filing with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), Dominion said that it had agreed to stop using coal and convert the plant by spring 2014 as part of an air permit required for the newly-opened Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center. If the SCC approves the estimated $53.4 million conversion, the company would stop burning coal at the station in the fall of 2013.

“The conversion is projected to save customers about $32 million when compared with the cost of building new generation and will save them $155 million when compared to continued operation on coal,” the company said. Bremo’s first two generating units went into service in 1931 with a total capacity of 30 MW. After operating longer than their projected lifetimes, those units were removed from service in 1972. The 71-MW Unit 3 and 156-MW Unit 4 went into service in 1950 and 1958 respectively.

Dominion has so far announced plans to shut down or convert all or part of five other coal-fired power stations and convert three small units to biomass. Coal-fired power stations that are scheduled to close by 2015 are Chesapeake Energy Center and two units at Yorktown Power Station in Virginia, and the North Branch Power Station in West Virginia. The three small Virginia stations being converted to biomass by 2014 are in Altavista, Hopewell and Southampton County.

The company this year closed a merchant coal-fired power station in Indiana and announced the closing by June 2014 of a merchant coal- and oil-fired power station in Massachusetts, which it subsequently sold.

“New environmental regulations that would have required costly expenditures to retrofit emission control equipment plus the low price and availability of natural gas as an alternative fuel has made operating smaller, older coal-fired stations uneconomical,” the company said.

Sources: Dominion, POWER
This story originally appeared in the Sept. 6 issue of POWERnews.

—Edited by Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine)

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