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Power plant developers refute claims of environmental harm

Spokesman says natural gas is bridge between coal and renewable energies


by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY: DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS  - This image demonstrates the design of Troutdale Energy Center with key environmental-protection features included.Developers say the Troutdale plant would provide backup service to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind plants that can’t always run at times when electricity is needed.

“With the announced closure of Portland General Electric’s Boardman and TransAtlanta’s Centralia coal plants, the need for replacement energy and capacity will increase the need for efficient, low carbon-emitting natural gas generation like the Troutdale Energy Center,” said Greg Peden, spokesman at Gallatin Public Affairs, a Portland PR company that has been speaking on behalf of the Development Partners project.

Development Partners, a New York energy firm, has applied for a site permit with the state of Oregon to build a 652-megawatt plant at the former Reynolds aluminum factory site in Troutdale.

Several groups including the U.S. Forest Service, Columbia River Gorge Commission and Oregon Pilots Association have contested the proposal, claiming the plant will pollute the air and harm the environment.

Peden refutes claims made by project opponents in The Outlook’s Jan. 28 article, “Troutdale power plant runs into opposition,” who said the company has done little to notify the public.

“The Troutdale Energy Center has been studied extensively by the proper governmental agencies over the past year and a half,” and has “held more than seven public meetings with notices to inform the local communities,” the consultant at Gallatin Public Affairs said.

Responding to claims that fumes from the plant will pollute the air, Peden said emissions of the plant will be closely regulated by the Department of Environmental Quality through air and water quality permit programming.

“DEQ has evaluated the types and amounts of pollutants and determined the permit requirements according to the state and federal regulations,” he said.

The Troutdale Energy Center is described as a state-of-the-art, highly efficient natural gas power plant designed to meet flexible capacity demand and baseload electricity demand. The plant will have a 200-megawatt simple cycle facility and a 450-megawatt combined cycle facility on the same site.

The company said “the power plant will employ the best available technology for emissions using Selective Catalytic Reduction,” an emissions control system patented in the United States in 1957.

SCR technology is designed to reduce the amount of pollutants exhaust gases released into the air by converting harmful nitrogen oxides into nitrogen, water and small amounts of carbon dioxide.

Catalytic oxidation also would convert pollutants such as carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds into less harmful substances.

In response to claims the Troutdale Energy Center will burn more fuel than the Boardman coal plant, Peden said Troutdale will require 40 percent less fuel than Boardman to achieve the same electric output.

He explained the heat rate of a plant is measured by the efficiency of converting fuel to electricity. A lower heat rate is indication the plant is more efficient at converting fuel to energy. A higher heat rate indicates less efficiency.

“The Boardman plant, built in 1980, has an average heat rate of 10,253 Btu/kWh over the last seven years,” Peden said. “The heat rate for the Troutdale Energy Center is expected to be around 7,300 Btu/kWh.”

The Troutdale power plant will boast technology similar to that at a plant PGE is building in Morrow County, and PGE’s Port Westward in Clatskanie, Peden said.

Development Partners does not appear to have a buyer for the electricty if and when the Troutdale plant is built.

“The Troutdale Energy Center has the capability of delivering into the PGE, PacifiCorp and BPA transmission systems, effectively reaching every northwest utility with efficient and low carbon electricity,” Peden said.

Similiar plant fined for nitrogen oxide emissions

According to a Dec. 5, 2013, article in The Chronicle, PGE’s Port Westard power plant was fined $4,000 by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for exceeding nitrogen oxide emissions limits last April.

Plant emission readings for nitrogen oxides exceeded the allowable limit of 2.5 parts per million by volume, with 2.6, 2.7 and 2.6 parts per million over a three-hour time span, the article said.

“DEQ issued the penalty because the power plant violated federal air quality standards set to protect public health and the air shed from degradation,” the newspaper reported.

“Nitrogen oxides can irritate the lungs, cause bronchitis and pneumonia, and lower resistance to respiratory infections.”

The pollutants also are related to the formation of ozone and acid rain, and may affect land and aquatic ecosystems.




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