Last coal plant in New York set for early closure
- Dec 3, 2019 8:48 pm GMT
Back in November, Somerset Operating Company, subsidiary of Riesling Power LLC, filed a request with the New York State Public Service Commission (NYSPSC) to waive the state’s required, 180 day notice to shut down the 674 MW Somerset Station coal-fired power plant, allowing the facility to be retired on February 15, 2020.
Somerset, better known as the Kintigh Generating Station, was named for longtime leader and former CEO and President of New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG), Allen Ellis Kintigh. He was instrumental in providing vision and leadership in the development of the project before he retired in the early 1990s.
When the unit began operating in 1984, it was hailed as one of the cleanest coal-burning power plants in the United States, having integrated the best emissions control technology of the time.
The Kintigh power plant is the last operating coal-fueled power plant in New York state. The plant is located near Lake Ontario in Niagara County, about 40 miles north of Buffalo, NY.
Earlier this fall, the Cayuga coal-fueled power plant in Tompkins County, NY started the process of closure. Cayuga was the second to last operating coal unit to shut down in the state.
Source: ABB Ability Velocity Suite
The proposed closure of Kintigh early next year is contingent on approvals by both NYSPSC and the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), the state’s organized power market. NYISO will determine if the plant closure will have an adverse effect on grid reliability going forward.
Over the past decade, coal has been virtually phased out across New York. In 2018, coal accounted for only one-half of one percent (0.69 million MWh) of all power generation in the state. Natural gas and nuclear accounted for 75.6% (93.7 million MWh) that year. As recent as 2007, coal represented 14.3% (21.4 million MWh) of the New York state fuel mix.
Source: ABB Ability Velocity Suite
The plant closure announcement supports New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent proclamation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the state by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. As part of the plan, the state hopes to supply 100% carbon-free power by 2040.
The task of meeting zero-carbon power by 2040 will become more complicated when the two operating, zero-emission nuclear reactors (2.4 GW) at the Indian Point Energy Center scheduled shutdown over the next two years. In 2018, Indian Point generated 12.3% (16.3 million MWh) of the state’s electricity production, more than two times the output produced by non-hydro renewable energy resources across the state.
Owned and operated by Entergy Corporation, the Indian Point nuclear power plant is located on the east bank of the Hudson River just south of Peekskill, in Buchanan, New York.
When the Kintigh coal plant stops generating electricity, it will be the end of an era. New York will join the ranks of California and Idaho as the only states to have had operating coal-fueled power plants all shuttered over the years.
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