Kent County Power Plant Goes Coal-Free - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Kent County Power Plant Goes Coal-Free

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DOVER, Del.- One of Delaware's last remaining coal-fired power plants has now gone coal-free.

NRG's Energy Center Dover power plant was built in 1984. It had been using a combination of coal and natural gas to produce electricity. Now, it is all natural gas; a move the state says makes the plant much better for the environment.

Looking at the upgraded power plant along North Street in Dover, DNREC Secretary Colin O'Mara sad it is a significant improvement over the old system.

"We moved from a dirty system to one of the cleanest in the country," he said.

The project started in April 2012 and went online at the start of June. David Gaier, a spokesman for NRG, said all told, it cost $25 million.

"One of the reasons that number is low is we were able to reuse so much of the existing equipment that we have on the station," he explained.

"The state provided a small grant of $500,000 to help get the project off the ground," said O'Mara. "Then NRG and Chesapeake took it from there to build it over the past year."

DNREC said the conversion dramatically reduces the amount of pollution the plant puts into Kent County's air. Some pollutants were cut by more than 90-percent.

It is part of a shift across the state away from coal since 2009.

"There were actually 10 coal plants in the state," O'Mara said. "Nine of those have either switched to cleaner fuels or been replaced by new generation."

The tenth plant is NRG's Indian River Power Plant near Millsboro. It still uses coal. But the plant has shut down, or is in the process of shutting down, three of its four coal units. The last one now has $360 million in environmental controls on it.

Asked if going to natural gas was an option at Indian River, Gaier said, "We are always looking at all our assets across the fleet to see if there are opportunities to re-power them."

The plant in Dover now produces about 106 megawatts, which is approximately the same amount it produced before the conversion.

In addition to the electricity it makes, the power plant also supplies steam to the nearby Kraft and Playtex facilities.

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