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Mountaineer Plant

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Mountaineer Plant is a coal-fired power station owned and operated by American Electric Power near New Haven, West Virginia.

In August 2009, AEP announced its application for funding from the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Coal Power Initiative. The company is asking for a $334 million grant to cover about half of the estimated costs of installing carbon capture and storage system at Mountaineer. According to the grant application, the system will capture at least 90 percent of the carbon dioxide from 235 MW of the plant's 1,300 MW total capacity. The captured carbon dioxide, which is expected to be about 1.5 million metric tons per year, will be injected into geologic formations about 1.5 miles under ground. The company says it will have the system operational in 2015.[1]

In December 2009, AEP was awarded a $334 million grant from the Department of Energy for a commercial scale project that will capture carbon from its Mountaineer pilot plant.[2] The company notes that the "Mountaineer Plant CCS projects employ Alstom’s patented chilled ammonia process for post-combustion CO2 capture. The process uses ammonium carbonate to absorb CO2. The resulting ammonium bicarbonate is converted back to ammonium carbonate in a regenerator and is reused to repeat the process. The flue gas, cleaned of CO2, flows back to the stack and the captured CO2 is sent for storage."[3]

On July 14, 2011, American Electric Power said it had decided to table plans to build the full-scale carbon-capture plant at Mountaineer, saying they did not believe state regulators would let the company recover its costs by charging customers, thus leaving it no "compelling regulatory or business reason to continue the program."[4]

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Plant Data

  • Owner: Appalachian Power Company
  • Parent Company: American Electric Power
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 1,300 megawatts (MW)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: 1,300 MW (1980)
  • Location: Rte. 33, New Haven, WV 25265
  • GPS Coordinates: 38.972806, -81.926889
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source:
  • Number of Employees:

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 6,554,286 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 31,052 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 7,668 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 317 lb.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Mountaineer Plant

Mountaineer Plant Deploys Carbon Capture and Sequestration.

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[5] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[6]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the Mountaineer Plant

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 38 $280,000,000
Heart attacks 60 $6,600,000
Asthma attacks 590 $31,000
Hospital admissions 28 $670,000
Chronic bronchitis 23 $10,000,000
Asthma ER visits 30 $11,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

Carbon Capture and Storage plant cancelled

On July 14, 2011, American Electric Power said it had decided to table plans to build the full-scale Carbon Capture and Storage plant at Mountaineer, claiming that state regulators would not let the company recover its costs by charging customers, thus leaving it no "compelling regulatory or business reason to continue the program." The federal Department of Energy had pledged to cover half the cost, but AEP said it was unwilling to spend the remainder in a political climate that had changed strikingly since it began the project. A senior Obama administration official said that the A.E.P. decision was a result of the political stalemate on climate change legislation, which failed to pass the Senate. Public service commissions of both West Virginia and Virginia turned down the company’s request for full reimbursement for the pilot plant, operating since 2009. West Virginia said earlier in 2011 that the cost should have been shared among all the states where AEP does business; Virginia hinted in July 2010 that it should have been paid for by all utilities around the United States, since a successful project would benefit all of them.[7][8]

Concerning AEP's statement that costs could not be passed along, West Virginia journalist Ken Ward noted: "It's not exactly true that utility commissions aren’t allowing companies to pass costs of projects like this on to consumers... The West Virginia PSC allowed AEP rate hikes to cover our state’s share of the costs. Virginia regulators seemed willing to do the same. [9] James Fallows of The Atlantic wrote: "This is the kind of project that (was) the best and urgently necessary hope to allow the US, China, and other countries to keep using coal ... while reducing carbon emissions. [10]


Coal Waste Sites

Articles and Resources

References

  1. "AEP seeks government money for cleaner coal project," Energy Current, August 20, 2009.
  2. "American Electric Gets Fed Funds," Zacks Equity Research, December 7, 2009.
  3. "Carbon Capture, Sequestration" American Electric Power website, accessed May 4, 2011.
  4. Matthew Wald and John Broder, "Utility Shelves Ambitious Plan to Limit Carbon" NY Times, July 13, 2011.
  5. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  6. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  7. Matthew Wald and John Broder, "Utility Shelves Ambitious Plan to Limit Carbon" NY Times, July 13, 2011.
  8. Scott DiSavino and Timothy Gardner "AEP halts carbon capture plan due climate inaction" Reuters, July 14, 2011.
  9. Ken Ward "W.Va. leaders keep their heads in the sand on climate change and mountaintop removal" Coal Tattoo, July 15, 2011.
  10. James Fallows "Mountaineer: Sobering News out of West Virginia" The Atlantic, July 15, 2011.

External resources

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