Whelan Energy Center

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Whelan Energy Center is a coal-fired power station owned and operated by Public Power Generation Agency, an entity formed by five public power utilities, including Heartland Consumers Power District. The plant is located near Hastings, Nebraska.

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Plant Data

  • Owner: Public Power Generation Agency
  • Parent Company: Five public power agencies
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 76.3 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: 76.3 MW (1981), 225 MW (2011)
  • Location: 4520 East South St., Hastings, NE 68901
  • GPS Coordinates: 40.580619, -98.310782
  • Electricity Production: 549,295 MWh (2005)
  • Coal Consumption: 365,000 tons (2005)
  • Coal Source: Wyoming
  • Number of Employees:

Background on Unit 2

The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality issued a PSD permit in 2004 to Hastings Utilities, allowing the addition of a 220-megawatt (MW) pulverized coal-fired power plant to Hastings Utilities’ existing Whelan I Energy Center. The Whelan Energy Center is located six miles outside of Hastings, Nebraska and consists of an existing 77 MW coal-fired electric generating unit.[1]

The proposed plant will burn coal from the Powder River Basin (PRB). In Oct. 2007, the construction contract was awarded to Babcock & Wilcox; the project is slated to be completed in 2011.[1]

In August 2008, the Sierra Club, represented by attorneys at Plains Justice, sent Hastings' Utilities a 60-day notice of intent to sue. The Club claims that Hastings is in violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA) by building the Whelan II plant without first evaluating technologies to control the emissions of hazardous air pollutants and setting limits for them.[2]

Project Details

Sponsor: Hastings Utilities
Location: Hastings, Nebraska
Capacity: 225MW[3]
Type: Pulverized coal
In service: 2011[3]
Status: Construction

Emissions Data

  • CO2 Emissions: 709,714 tons (2005)
  • SO2 Emissions: 2,563 tons (2005)
  • SO2 Emissions per MWh: 9.33 lb/MWh (2005)
  • NOx Emissions: 1,103 tons (2005)
  • Mercury Emissions:

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Whelan Energy Center

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.[4] 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.[5]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Whelan Energy Center

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 2 $13,000,000
Heart attacks 3 $290,000
Asthma attacks 30 $2,000
Hospital admissions 1 $30,000
Chronic bronchitis 1 $480,000
Asthma ER visits 2 <$1,000

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

Articles and Resources

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 “Barberton's Babcock & Wilcox to Build Nebraska Power Plant with Chinese Boiler, Scrubber", Cleveland.com, October 2, 2007.
  2. "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed November 2008. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals.)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Whelan Energy Center Unit 2," Heartland Consumers Power District, accessed October 2014
  4. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  5. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010

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