February 1, 2019 Read More →

Wyoming: PacifiCorp closes Unit 3 at Naughton coal plant

Gillette News Record:

Operators at PacifiCorp’s Naughton Plant have shut down Unit 3, a giant furnace and electrical generator that consumed 165 tons of coal an hour.

Part of the three-unit Naughton Plant outside this town of 2,747, Unit 3’s warren of conveyor belts, robust coal grinder, towering boiler, maze of steam pipes and spinning generator will fall silent — a casualty of environmental regulations and market forces beyond its control.

Restrictions imposed by the Clean Air Act, state regulations, an abundant supply of natural gas, new solar and wind power sources and customer preferences set the industrial complex on its heels. The Naughton Plant sprawls across 1,120 acres near the Kemmerer coal mine and can generate up to 700 megawatts of electricity. Its first unit was commissioned in 1963, 56 years ago.

The Naughton Plant employs approximately 126 workers, down about 25 percent — about 31 workers — through attrition over the past five years, Plant Managing Director Rodger Holt said. Unit 3, which generates 280 megawatts net, can power 140,000 homes, said Dave Eskelsen, a spokesman for PacifiCorp and its subsidiary Rocky Mountain Power.

But it would take “a couple of hundred million dollars,” Holt said, to upgrade Unit 3 to meet emission limits for nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas, and other pollutants while burning coal. And that’s not going to happen. “This is it,” he said last week. “There’s no other way out.”

More: Victim of times, Kemmerer coal-fired generator shuts down

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