Coal Age

DEC 2012

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p r a i r i e stat e Clean Coal Strikes Back Prairie State and its adjacent underground mine begin generating reliable inexpensive power BY LEE BUCHSBAUM, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND PHOTOGRAPHER Burning Illinois coal to generate power, PSEC supplies eight municipal systems with low cost energy. On November 2, Unit No. 2 of the Prairie State Energy Campus (PSEC), a 1,600megawatt power plant located in southern Illinois, went live, producing commercial power for its nine owners and their 2.5 million customers. The second part of the largest coal-fired power plant to be built since 1982, Unit No. 2 is now fully under the control of the PSEC team, a significant milestone. The following day, all of the power was scheduled and dispatched for the use by its municipal and electric cooperative owners, customers and members, from Missouri to West Virginia. More than a decade ago, the project was initiated by Peabody Energy, the original owner of the coal reserves PSEC currently mines and burns. Reportedly championed by then Peabody CEO Irl Englehardt, the corporate board envisioned the construction of at least three 38 similar mine mouth plants: Prairie State in southern Illinois, the Thoroughbred project in western Kentucky, and the smaller Mustang facility in New Mexico. Thoroughbred was to have been as big as PSEC but that project has been put on hold though Peabody still retains those Muhlenberg County, Ky., reserves. After years of legal wrangling and lots of red tape, Bechtel Corp. began construction of the power plant in 2007. Construction took almost five years and the first boiler began generating power in June 2012. Five months later, the second unit went online. The cost of the facility, including the on-site coal mine supplying the plant and a new high-voltage transmission line was more than $5 billion—the single largest private investment in southern Illinois' history and one of the largest investments ever in Illinois coal. Designed as the new face of coal, PSEC is a combined underground coal mine and power plant project built on the same campus, adjacent to each other, and functioning as one symbiotically connected unit. The mine, owned by PSEC, accesses more than 30-years of Herrin No. 6 seam coal which, after being cut from the face underground, is conveyed to the power plant and often burned within eight to 12 hours after harvest. The coal itself is wholly controlled by the PSEC owners, all of which are municipalities, the same entities that also own the power plant itself. Located in Washington County, Ill., an hour south of St. Louis, PSEC invested more than $1 billion in environmental emissions control equipment, allowing it to meet and exceed the newest U.S. EPA and state regulations. During peak construction, PSEC employed more than 4,000 union tradesmen and women paying more than $1billion in wages, and, once the project reaches full maturity, it will employ more than 550 permanent employees. PSEC supplies eight municipal power systems with low cost, reliable energy. American Municipal Power-Ohio Inc. (AMP), based in Columbus, is one of six wholesalers involved in the project. Cleveland Public Power and 67 other municipal power systems supplied by AMP have signed 50-year contracts to buy a portion of their power from the plant. In addition to AMP, other partners in the power plant include the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency, the Indiana Municipal Power Agency, the Kentucky Municipal Power Agency, the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission, the Northern Illinois Municipal Power Agency, Prairie Power Inc. and Southern Illinois Power December 2012

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