June 22, 2018 Read More →

Cayuga coal plant in New York plans natural gas conversion

The Lansing Star:

Cayuga Operating Company announced today that they have submitted applications to allow them to close a 155 megawatt coal-fired burner in order to repower it with natural, and that plans are still in motion to construct an 18 megawatt, 75 acre solar farm on its 434-acre site in northwest Lansing, making it one of the largest solar farms in upstate New York.

Company officials say compressed natural gas (CNG) will be conveyed to the plant by truck, eliminating the need for a gas pipeline. If approved, the conversion will not be paid for at ratepayers’ expense. The company submitted an air permit modification application to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) May 1st that will, if granted allow the conversion of one of the plant’s two burners to natural gas. Traffic statistics from a 2017 report by the Tompkins County Transportation Council shows that the 25 to 60 trucks per day used to bring CNG to the plant would only add 2% more traffic at most. The trucks are also fueled by CNG, which is cleaner than gasoline and diesel trucks, and will reduce the transport of coal by train.

Cayuga Solar has applied for over 1.5 million NYSERDA Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to help pay for construction of the solar farm. This is the company’s second try to obtain the credits, and company officials are optimistic they will qualify in this summer’s round. Applications are due by August 15th, and awards are scheduled to be announced in October of 2018.

A major advantage Cayuga Solar has over other solar projects is the existing infrastructure that connects the facility to the power grid. While many solar farm projects stumble on just finding a location that makes sense for connecting, as did a proposed solar farm that would have powered the Lansing schools (that was one of the obstacles), the existing power plant connection can also be used for the proposed solar installation and future renewable projects on the site.

If Cayuga Solar is able to obtain the credits company officials estimate the solar farm could begin operating by July 2020. Company officials anticipate it may take up to a year for the DEC to make a determination on its air permit modification application. Once approved, Goodenough estimates that the conversion, paid for by the company, will take four to five months to complete.

More: Power Plant to Repower With Natural Gas

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