Boardman 2020 progress report
PGE is making important progress implementing the new operating plan for our Boardman Plant, often called the Boardman 2020 plan. As part of this plan, PGE has installed new emissions controls at the plant, and has agreed to end the use of coal there by Dec. 31, 2020.
Key areas of progress include:
- Installation of new controls
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval of the state’s regional haze requirements pertaining to the Boardman Plant
- Agreement to settle a legal challenge from the Sierra Club
- Preparation of comments on new standards proposed by the EPA for power plants across the country.
Installation of new controls
New emissions controls at Boardman are expected to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by about 50 percent and permitted levels of sulfur dioxide emissions by 75 percent. State rules also require new controls to reduce the plant’s mercury emissions by 90 percent. All coal-related emissions from the Boardman facility will be reduced to zero with the end of coal-fired operations in 2020. The combined capital cost of the required controls is currently estimated at about $60 million.
The new controls include:
- New low-NOx burners and modified overfire air ports to comply with Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) standards for oxides of nitrogen. These were installed in the spring of 2011 and are now operating as planned.
- An activated carbon injection system to allow capture and removal of mercury from the plant’s emissions. This system was also installed in the spring of 2011 and will undergo testing before becoming fully operational in the fall.
- A separate dry sorbent injection system to comply with BART standards for sulfur dioxide. PGE also expects to switch to a coal supply that contains less sulfur. Preliminary testing relating to design and engineering of this system will begin in the fall of 2011. The new state rules require it to be operational in 2014.
Illustration of new emissions controls
View illustration (PDF) and details about new and planned emission controls for the Boardman Plant.
EPA approval of 2020 plan
In July, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the portions of Oregon’s state implementation plan for regional haze that pertain to BART requirements for the Boardman 2020 plan. The implementation plan was adopted by Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission in December 2010. EPA approval of the plan was the final regulatory step in certifying that the 2020 strategy complies with Clean Air Act requirements for regional haze.
Agreement reached to resolve legal challenge
PGE, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups have lodged a consent decree with the U.S. District Court in Portland to resolve allegations of Clean Air Act violations at the Boardman Plant. The consent decree, which settles a suit filed by the groups in 2008, requires approval by the court following a 45-day review period by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice. PGE contested the allegations and worked with the plaintiffs to resolve the matter without further litigation. The consent decree specifies certain caps in permitted sulfur dioxide emissions from the Boardman Plant during its remaining coal-fired operations, which PGE expects to meet within the framework of the plan adopted last year, and allows continued operation of the plant through the end of 2020. In addition, PGE and its Boardman Plant co-owners will provide $2.5 million to the Oregon Community Foundation for environmental projects in the Columbia Gorge and northeastern Oregon and will pay $1 million to reimburse the plaintiffs for legal expenses.
New EPA rules for power plants
In a separate regulatory process, the EPA has adopted new standards to reduce certain emissions — including mercury — from coal- and oil-fired electric power plants.
The emissions controls already approved for the Boardman Plant are consistent with the environmental objectives of the new rules. Oregon’s mercury standard, for example, is higher than the proposed federal standard. Further analysis is being done to verify the plant’s ability to meet other targeted emissions rules.
PGE has advocated for flexibility to assure the rules can accommodate innovative solutions like the 2020 plan that result in significant emissions reductions and an enforceable end to coal burning years ahead of schedule.
In addition to completing testing and installation of new emissions controls at the plant, PGE will engage stakeholders in a comprehensive analysis of potential options to replace the power from the Boardman Plant — or convert the existing plant to a different fuel, such as biomass — as part of its integrated resource planning process.
Adoption of the Boardman 2020 plan completed a process that began when PGE volunteered in 2006 to have the Boardman Plant to be the first Oregon facility evaluated under BART guidelines for regional haze. The utility then submitted an initial analysis and control plan to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality in 2007. After DEQ adopted its first BART rule in 2009, PGE incorporated the rule’s emissions control requirements into the company’s long-term resource plan, but also responded to stakeholder requests for further analysis of an alternative strategy based on a 2020 timeline.
In January 2010, PGE announced that it would pursue a 2020 alternative, and submitted an initial 2020 plan to DEQ in April. The company also modified its integrated resource plan with the Oregon Public Utility Commission. PGE then updated and strengthened the 2020 plan in August and October, incorporating new technologies and further tightening proposed emissions and operational restrictions to address concerns of regulators and stakeholders.
The OPUC acknowledged the revised 2020 plan in November 2010, noting that earlier closure dates would not allow enough time for the company to secure reliable replacement power. The OEQC adopted regional haze rules incorporating the 2020 plan in December 2010 and forwarded the plan to the EPA for final approval.
Below are local newspaper editorials about the Boardman 2020 plan:
About the Boardman Plant
The Boardman Power Plant is a 585-megawatt coal-fired electricity generating plant in northeastern Oregon. It is one of PGE’s most cost-effective sources of power, producing electricity at a variable cost of about one-third to one-half the wholesale market price. Boardman provides about 15 percent of the power PGE delivers to its customers, making it a key resource in meeting Oregonians’ current and future energy needs.
PGE operates the Boardman Plant and owns 65 percent of it. The other owners are Bank of America Leasing LLC, 15 percent; Idaho Power Company, 10 percent; and Power Resources Cooperative, 10 percent.