The "Air Pollution Management" Newsletter

June 2008
No. 362

Increase Capacity

A plant which triggers NSR in the future will have to meet the NSPS for mercury (this was vacated as part of CAMR), but will likely be reissued at 90 percent or greater efficiency). The Clean Air Act requires a new plant to undergo new source review if it increases its capacity. Therefore, all the plants without scrubbers and SCR have tried to avoid increases. The economic consequences were small when gas was $2/MMBtu. But at $10/MMBtu the coal plant becomes extremely lucrative to operate.

Many old coal-fired boilers have the potential to increase capacity by five percent or more. A study conducted through funding by B&W shows that the cost per KWh of a modified plant with the latest air pollution control equipment and 10 percent greater electrical generation is less than an old unmodified plant.

The difficulty in siting new plants and the rising cost of gas are both drivers which will result in capacity increases at many old plants. At least 80 percent of existing plants will install pollution control equipment to enable them to increase capacity. So at an individual plant (not subject to other rules to install NOx and SOx control equipment in the next fifteen years) the odds are four to one that it will install equipment to meet new source performance standards (NSPS) for the purpose of increasing capacity in a legal way.

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