The benefits of GRDA’s “Refined Coal” Process

Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority
On site at the Grand River Dam Authority’s 1,245-acre Coal Fired Complex, the electric utility is doing something unique in Oklahoma but something that will reap benefits in multiple areas.

An aerial view of the GRDA Coal Fired Complex (near Chouteau, Oklahoma). The facility now uses a refined coal process to improve efficiency, reduce emissions and save money for ratepayers. The “Scrubber” component on Unit 2 (in the lower right corner of photo) is the only one in the state, making it the state’s cleanest burning coal unit.

Since late December 2011, GRDA has been using a “refined coal” process to chemically treat coal before it is burned in the facility’s boilers. That process is not only helping to lower emissions but is also saving money. In fact, it is anticipated that GRDA ratepayers can save $10,000 per day in total fuel expenses due to the refined coal process.

The process, which has been successfully implemented at other coal generation facilities across the country, begins once the coal is unloaded at the plant site. GRDA purchases its coal from the mines in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and it is transported to the plant site on trains owned by GRDA.

Once the coal is unloaded from the train (via a specially-designed rotary car dumper) it is placed on conveyors to be moved into the plant. The refining process, which occurs at a location adjacent to the “coal crusher house”, is now a new stop between the unloading process and the coal’s entry into the plant. Once it has been chemically treated it is sent on its way, pulverized to the consistency of talcum powder and injected into the plant’s boilers where combustion occurs.

Much like cleaner burning gasoline in your car, cleaner burning coal means more efficiency in thermal electric generation. The refined coal process is helping GRDA achieve that goal at a facility that, for many years, was already ranked among the most efficient coal generation plants in the country. Add in the fact that Unit 2 is equipped with the state’s only flue gas desulfurization unit (a component that “scrubs” emissions) and the efficiency and emissions benefits of this GRDA generation facility are clear. Before the coal is burned, the refined process is helping to reduce emissions. And after the coal is burned in Unit 2, the “Scrubber” is also helping to further reduce emissions. Meanwhile, GRDA ratepayers are recognizing greater savings in fuel costs. That is good for Oklahoma.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Directly or indirectly, GRDA’s low-cost, reliable; electricity serves nearly 500,000 homes in Oklahoma and stretches into 75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to Oklahoma taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75 years

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    – Justin Alberty
        GRDA Corporate Communications Director