Andy Dobrzanski, Mark Collett, and Dave Markle were among the presenters at the Powder River Basin Coal Users’ Group (PRBCUG) annual conference held Mar. 31–Apr. 3, 2014.

The PRBCUG provides in-depth presentations and discussions promoting the safe, efficient, and economic use of PRB coals by companies that currently use, or are considering the use of PRB coals. While several speakers mentioned housekeeping’s important role in the safe operation of facilities, other topics were also covered in depth.

One was fly ash handling systems and PRB coal ash. Dobrzanski, fuel supply manager for DTE Energy’s Monroe Power Station, noted that PRB coal fly ash size is typically finer than bituminous fly ash, and it normally has very low unburned carbon due to the reactivity of the fuel. The majority of the ash is removed as fly ash—70% to 90% of the total quantity—in a baghouse or electrostatic precipitator.

Although Dobrzanski said that bottom ash systems at Monroe are still wet systems, issues such as the Dan River ash spill are putting pressure on the industry to move toward dry ash systems. “There are different types of systems—hydraulic, mechanical, pneumatic, and vibratory systems—that collect bottom ash dry,” Dobrzanski said. “Those are some of the items that we need to look at going forward to meet the standards that I’m sure will be developed very shortly.”

Collett, director of mining and minerals for River Consulting, discussed electrical standards and area classifications. “There should be an electrical classification drawing for every substation in the plant so you can always look on that and see how an electrical area is classified,” he said. “If you don’t know what the classification of the areas of the plant are, there’s something wrong.”

Hot work procedures were also a “hot” topic, but one can’t talk about hot work without discussing fire protection. Duke Energy’s Markle noted that the only guidance that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides coal plants is that if they have decided to have a fire protection system, then it must be maintained. “We are responsible for fire protection ourselves,” he said. “There’s no guidance for it, except if you have it, you maintain it.” In other words, just as with so many things, “It’s up to us!”

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)