Coal Age

DEC 2012

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prairie state continued Cooperative. PSEC owners are the above eight Midwestern public power agencies and rural electric cooperatives as well as Peabody Energy. Public power and electric cooperatives are operated by local government boards to provide communities with reliable, responsible, not-forprofit power. The vision of its nine municipal and power company owners was a desire to use domestic energy resources to provide stable and competitively-priced power to their customers. Since all of the Illinois reserves are all owned by PSEC, all of PSEC's municipal power company owners and other stakeholders own the fuel itself. Peabody Energy currently maintains only a 5% ownership stake. Though many in the industry are still confused about the ownership structure, it should be noted that Peabody does not run the mine or own the equipment. PSEC personnel manage the mine and, though there are some veterans sprinkled throughout management and staff who at one time did work for Peabody, all are now PSEC employees. The PSEC room-and-pillar mine is scheduled to produce more than 7 million raw tons of coal annually. Across the highway, the power plant contains two super critical boilers designed to run cleaner and more efficiently than existing power plants. According to the latest figures, PSEC's environmental operating characteristics will allow the units to perform in the top 6% of coal-fired power plants in the nation, making it one of the cleanest power plants ever constructed. The actual operating performance to date of PSEC's air quality control system puts PSEC in the top 2% of coal-fired power plants in the nation for NOx removal, and top 10% of coal-fired power plants for SOx removal. While the plant does have rail service to receive limestone and other components, it has no other fuel handling options other than taking coal from the adjacent mine. By not needing any "transportation assistance" from a rail carrier, PSEC is able to keep its fuel costs extremely low (Recent studies suggest rail rates over the last decade are responsible for up to a 50% cost increase for as delivered coal). Historically, Illinois has had several mine-mouth power plants, though this mode of generation went out of favor following the implementation of December 2012 PSEC's mission is to supply reliable, low cost electricity to its municipal utility owners. Down on the turbine deck is where all of the electricity is made. the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 and the switch to lower sulfur western coals. But now with installed scrubbers, Illinois coal is back in vogue and, perhaps, PSEC's model will be replicated both in the Midwest and other coal producing regions. Exceeding Expectations Following recent tuning and performance testing, PSEC has determined that the power plant will actually exceed its rated capacity of 1,600 mw and be more efficient, and therefore cost lower to operate and be even friendlier to the environment. Both units have been tested and are being scheduled at higher than their nameplate capabilities of 800 mw per unit; Unit No. 1 at 812 mw and Unit No. 2 in excess of 809 mw. Performance testing also indicates that both units are operating more efficiently, approximately 1% better than guaranteed. Recently, PSEC began sending its coal combustion residuals (CCRs) to the adjacent Near-Field holding facility, which also significantly reduces operating costs by eliminating more expensive haulage. The higher output capability, better efficiency and lower operating costs associated with the Near-Field facility further support PSEC as being one of the lowest dispatch cost coal units in the U.S. fleet providing PSEC's owners with a financially sound and sustainable investment for their member communities for the next 30-plus years. Inside the power plant, the control room is state-of-the-art and uses the best technology available. Down below in the mine, "we have a trial run going on of Lockheed Martin's cutting-edge Throughthe-Earth communications technology that is being tested and developed here," said Peter DeQuattro, president and CEO, PSEC. "But what's really special here are our people. We built a new training center and we have 150 of our workforce going through an annual refresher course right now." PSEC emphasizes maintaining excellent communications with its employees because they see themselves as building a staff for a 30-year cycle. "We want our folks to be engaged. The low cost model that we are using is cutting edge and with our other advanced emissions and environmental controls, we are the future of coal," said DeQuattro. The PSEC plant required more than 20 million man-hours to construct. "We operate on our own merits without subsidies. As one of, if not the largest single private investment in southern Illinois' history, and one of the largest in the history of the entire state, this power project will stand on its own two feet," said DeQuattro, proudly. Mining Operations PSEC operates nine separate continuous miner units underground. "All we do is put the coal on a belt underground and it's shipped within moments to the plant. 39

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