Schiller Station

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Schiller Station is a coal and oil-fired power station in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The station is owned and operated by the Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH), a wholly owned subsidiary of Northeast Utilities. The plant is located on the western bank of the Piscataqua River, which borders New Hampshire and Maine. The Schiller Station began commercial operation in 1949 and is PSNH's third largest fossil fuel-burning plant.[1] The plant powers 83,500 residential, commercial, and industrial locations.[1]

Low-sulfur coal has been the primary fuel burned at the Schiller Station after Units 4, 5, and 6 were converted to handle both coal and oil in the early 1980's. Previously, all three units burned oil exclusively. In 1979, PSNH started looking into the possibility of converting the units from oil to coal and oil, with the permission of the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (Docket No. DR 79-141).[2] On March 17, 1980, Public Utilities Commission permitted the conversion, which was completed in 1984 (Order No. 14,131).[2]

Coal and oil is brought to Schiller's main dock on the Piscataqua River via ships and is stored on site.[3]

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Plant Data

  • Owner: Public Service Company of New Hampshire
  • Parent Company: Northeast Utilities
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 150 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: 45 MW (1952), 45 MW (1955), 45 MW (1957); There have been 6 units generating power at the Schiller Station:
    1. Completed in 1949 and retired in 1968.[4]
    2. Completed in 1949 and retired in 1968.[4]
    3. Completed in 1949 and originally designed to burn oil. Unit 3 was retired in 1991.[4]
    4. Completed in 1952. Originally designed to burn coal but six months after completion was converted to burn oil. In 1984, Unit 4 was again converted to burn primarily low-sulfur coal, with No. 6 residual oil.[4][2]
    5. Completed in 1955; Originally designed to burn coal but six months after completion was converted to burn oil. In 1984, Unit 5 was again converted to burn primarily low-sulfur coal, with No. 6 residual oil.[4][2] In 2006, Unit 5 was replaced with a wood-burning unit.
    6. Completed in 1957 and originally designed to burn oil. In 1984, Unit 5 was again converted to burn primarily low-sulfur coal, with No. 6 residual oil.[4][2]
    • There is also a small combustion turbine that can burn jet fuel or natural gas and produces 20 MW of power.
  • Location: 400 Gosling Rd., Portsmouth, NH 03801
  • GPS Coordinates: 43.096778, -70.784167
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Number of Employees:

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 1,301,733 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions:
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions:
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions:

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Schiller

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 Schiller Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 3 $22,000,000
Heart attacks 6 $610,000
Asthma attacks 47 $2,000
Hospital admissions 3 $58,000
Chronic bronchitis 2 $830,000
Asthma ER visits 2 <$1,000

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


Coal Sources

In 2008, the Schiller Station burned 421,670 tons of coal from Colombia, the United States, and Venezuela.[7]

  • Colombia: 39,910 tons, or 9.4% of the coal burned in 2008
  • United States: 92,490, or 21.8%
  • Venezuela: 290,270, or 68.8%

Colombian Coal and Human Rights Violations

Colombia's coal mines, like many industries in the country, are filled with stories of displacement and terror. A number of entire communities in the coalfields have been displaced, including Tabaco, a 700-person Afro-Colombian village that was razed in 2001.[8] People living near the coalfields have faced malnutrition, diseases such as ringworm, and restricted access to land since the large mines opened up.[8]

The Drummond Company (operator of la Loma mine in Colombia) has been the subject of numerous lawsuits regarding the murders of 70 union miners and railroad workers, collectively.[9][10][11] The murdered Colombians were killed by the notorious paramilitary group, United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), which had been hired by Drummond to act as security.[10] In addition to those killed, a lawsuit against Drummond describes "how hundreds of men, women, and children were terrorized in their homes, on their way to and from work… innocent people killed in or near their homes or kidnapped to never to return home, their spouses and children being beaten and tied up, and people being pulled off buses and summarily executed on the spot."[10]

Northern Wood Power Project

On December 1, 2006, the Public Service Co. of New Hampshire opened the Northern Wood Power Project, a wood-fueled electricity generator that replaced Unit 5 of the Schiller Station.[12][13] In October 2003, PSNH filed a plan for the project to the Public Utilities Commission, a process which took nine months. [12][14] PSNH did not need approval from the state legislature because the wood-burning plant is considered a modification to an existing plant.[14] The $75 million dollar project broke ground in December 2004. [13][14]

PSNH burns 400,000 – 450,000 tons of wood a year to power the plant, using fluidized bed technology. [12][14] According to a informational power industry website, "every year, PSNH used to buy about 400,000 [tons] of low-sulphur coal to fuel Schiller Station's three boilers. The wood fired plant will power around 50,000 New Hampshire homes while reducing coal use by over one third, or 130,000 [tons] annually."[12] However, in 2008 (two years after the biomass plant began operating), the Schiller Station burned 421,670 tons of coal.[7]

Compared to Unit 5, emissions to the biomass burner were estimated to be 70 percent lower for nitrogen oxides, 95 percent lower for sulfur dioxide, and 90 percent lower for mercury. [14] These reduced emissions help the Schiller Station meet the requirements of the New Hampshire Clean Power Act.[12]

Renewable Energy Credits

The biomass plant qualifies PSNH for Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). PSNH aimed to earn 350,000 credits a year, which the company would sell to power plant companies in Connecticut and Massachusetts, where companies have to meet Renewable Portfolio Standards. [13][14] The credits are worth $40-50 each, bringing an estimated total of $15 million.[14] PSNH planned to have money from the RECs pay for the costs of the plant.[14] "We probably would not have proposed, nor won approval for this, unless the REC market existed," said PSNH spokesperson Martin Murray, as reported in the Nashua Telegraph.[15]

In 2008, New Hampshire implemented a Renewable Portfolio Standard and the northeast's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Furthermore, according to Dr. Robert Peltier of Power Magazine, "because the repowered Unit 5 is an open-loop biomass system, it also is eligible for a federal renewable electricity production tax credit of 0.9 cents/kWh for its first 10 years of operation."[13]

The Northern Wood Power Project was touted as one of the largest renewable energy projects in New Hampshire and the United States, and "one of the first to replace fossil fuel generation with an equivalent amount of cleaner electric power."[12] PSNH even claims the burner is "carbon neutral," because "no additional net carbon is released into the atmosphere from burning wood."[16]

About the wood

PSNH is obligated to buy at least 30 percent of the wood from New Hampshire, as part of an agreement with the Public Utilities Commission.[14] The wood also comes from Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut, and includes wood from timber harvesting, fire control measures, debris from sawmills, and from clearing land for homes, roads, and other developments.[14][17] The wood purchased from logging sites is considered "low-grade" because of its low economic value and includes stumps, tops, branches, rotten pieces.[14] The Schiller plant also accepts any brush, low-lying vegetation, or other plant material from logging and development sites.[17] The company has said that it will not burn construction or demolition debris.[17]

In 2007, the wood burned at Schiller came from more than 60 contracted suppliers in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Maine, and Connecticut.[13][15]

The wood is brought to the Schiller Station by the truckload. Each truck can carry 30 tons of wood chips and between 50 and 70 trucks arrive each day.[13] Each ton costs between $20 and $30, fluctuating with the price of diesel and traveling distance.[14] Deliveries are permitted for fourteen hours of the day, Monday through Friday, and for limited hours on Saturdays.[13]

The trucks are emptied when they drive onto a machine that lifts the entire truck up and tips it backward so that the contents slide out the back and into a container.[13] There are three truck-dumpers, and each can unload up to four trucks per hour.[13] There is a 5-acre wood storage yard on-site that can hold 19,000 tons of wood chips.[13] The wood chips are transported to the boiler from the delivery and storage area by a 940-foot long conveyor belt that dissects the site.[13] The boiler is 110-feet tall and sits between railroad tracks and the Piscatagua River.[13][12] The boiler burns 65 to 70 tons of wood chips an hour.[18]

Sound Pollution

After the wood-burning boiler began operating, neighbors in Eliot, Maine (across the Picatagua River) began complaining about noise from the plant disrupting their daily lives.[19] A private study conducted to measure noise levels found that noise from the plant exceeded Portsmouth limits.[19] In October 2008, PSNH installed silencers in fans located in the boiler's air ducts, but removed the one in the 'induced draft' fan because of its negative impact on operations and emissions measuring.[19] When PSNH representatives met with seventeen Eliot, ME residents in June 2009, the residents informed PSNH that they are woken up by the plant at night and have trouble holding conversations outside.[19] The representatives told the residents that the company would replace the 'induced draft' fan's silencer and look into other options, but neglected to commit to any dates.[19]

Supporters

  • Former New Hampshire Governor Craig Benson[20]
  • Senator John E. Sununu[18]
  • Governor's Office of Energy[20]
  • New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development[20]
  • The State Forester[20]
  • Audubon Society of New Hampshire[20]
  • New Hampshire Timberland Owner's Association[20]
  • Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forest[20]
  • Seacoast Science Center[20]
  • New Hampshire Business and Industry Association[20]
  • Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce[20]

Companies Involved

  • Bellwether Solutions LLC: conducted initial studies[13]
  • Innovative Natural Resource Solutions LLC: consulted about fuel supply and "regional forestry infrastructure"[13]
  • GenPower LLC: helped with technical issues[13]
  • Careba Power Engineers LLC: assessed "equipment layout options and other project design aspects"
  • MacMillan & Donnelly Inc.: helped with air permits[13]
  • Gorrill-Palmer Consulting Engineers Inc.: helped with traffic studies, water permits, and local land use issues[13]
  • Cavanaugh Tocci Associates Inc.: assisted in "acoustical consulting"[13]
  • Alstom Power Inc.: engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) contractor and supplied the island for the boiler[13]
  • Cianbro Constructors: constructed the boiler island and wood-yard; teamed up with Dean Oliver International for materials-handling, design, and procurement[13]
  • Dean Oliver International: teamed up with Cianbro for materials-handling, design, and procurement[13]

Collaboration with Lindt USA

On March 3, 2009, PSNH and Lindt USA tested burning a mix of cocoa bean shells and coal in Unit 6 of the Schiller Station.[21] Lindt USA plans to open a cocoa roasting & manufacturing factory in Stratham, NH in January 2010, as a way to cut back on transportation costs associated with shipping blocks of chocolate from Europe.[21][22] The chocolate company hopes that the facility's waste cocoa bean shells can be burned at Schiller because it would be an easy way to dispose of them and it is touted as an "opportunity to reduce Lindt's carbon footprint." [22][23] Lindt USA CEO and President Thomas Linemayr called this a "local energy source." [23]

On the testing day in March 2009, 18 tons of shells were burnt at a 1:33 ratio of shells to coal.[21][22] The two companies had been planning to test the mix for two years, a process which was slowed because of state permits.[22]

In January 2010, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services approved a plan for PSNH to burn cocoa bean shells from the Lindt factory.[24] PSNH announced the plan in mid-February and will burn the shells in one of the stations two coal-burning boilers.[24] While PSNH will burn a blend of 1:30 cocoa shells of coal, the company claims the addition will lower the plant's carbon dioxide emissions.[24] According to a press release, "every ton of cocoa bean shells used to generate electricity... will displace the need to burn one half-ton of coal."[24] When the mix was tested in 2009, PSNH expected it would likely have little effect on operations or emissions of the plant, because of the small amount of shells they are able to use.[21]

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Schiller Station", Public Service of New Hampshire website, accessed June 28, 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Application for a public interest finding to modify Schiller Station Generating Facility and request for cost recovery of such modification", Public Service Company of New Hampshire website, accessed June 29, 2009.
  3. Christopher J. Allwarden, "Re: PSNH/Schiller Station wood conversion project", letter to Michael P. Nolin, New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee, September 3, 2003.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 "Energy choices: PSNH Fossil Stations", Public Service Co. of New Hampshire website, accessed June 29, 2009.
  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. 7.0 7.1 "New England power plants that use coal and where the coal comes from", "Appalachian Voices", accessed March 30, 2009.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Aviva Chomsky, "The dirty story behind local energy", "The Boston Phoenix", October 1, 2007.
  9. International Rights Advocates, "Juan Aquas Romero, et al. v. Drummond Company Inc., et al.", Plaintiff's Opening Brief, December 11, 2007.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "Federal lawsuit alleges U.S. mining company Drummond paid millions to Colombian paramilitary terrorists who killed 67; including "execution" of union leaders", "Reuters", May 28, 2009.
  11. "Children of slain Colombian coal miners sue Drummond Co. in Birmingham federal court", "Birmingham News", March 20, 2009.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 "Wood chips burning plant, Schiller Station, Portsmouth, New Hampshire", Power Technology website, accessed June 28, 2009.
  13. 13.00 13.01 13.02 13.03 13.04 13.05 13.06 13.07 13.08 13.09 13.10 13.11 13.12 13.13 13.14 13.15 13.16 13.17 13.18 13.19 13.20 Dr. Robert Peltier, "PSNH's Northern Wood Power Project repowers coal-fired plant with new fluidized-bed combustor", "POWER Magazine", August 15, 2007.
  14. 14.00 14.01 14.02 14.03 14.04 14.05 14.06 14.07 14.08 14.09 14.10 14.11 Lisa Arsenault, "Schiller Station gets ready for powerful switch", "Portsmouth Herald", May 9, 2006.
  15. 15.0 15.1 David Brooks, "PSNH's wood-burning plant makes power practical", "Nashua Telegraph", December 31, 2006.
  16. "Northern Wood Power: Overview: FAQ", Public Service Company of New Hampshire website, accessed June 29, 2009.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 "Project overview", Public Service Company of New Hampshire website, accessed June 28, 2009.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Adam Leech, "Sununu touts energy plan at Schiller Station", "Seacoast Online", July 12, 2008.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 David Ramsay, "Schiller Station called disruptive by neighbors", Seacoast Online, June 19, 2009.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 20.6 20.7 20.8 20.9 "Northern Wood Power: Overview: Partnerships", Public Service Company of New Hampshire website, accessed June 29, 2009.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 "Neighbors collaborate to find sweet reuse for chocolate product byproduct", Public Service Co. of New Hampshire press release, March 3, 2009.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Adam Leech, "Cocoa power: PSNH tests Lindt bean shells, coal combo", "Seacoast Online", March 3, 2009.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Allison Bloom, "Lindt USA and Public Service of New Hampshire", Food, Nutrition, & Science from the Lempert Report, March 30, 2009.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 "How sweet it is!", Public Service Co. of New Hampshire press release, February 11, 2010.

External resources

External articles