Reliant Plant Turns Waste Coal to Power

Bucking the current trend of building natural gas-fueled power plants, Reliant Energy Seward LLC --- a unit of the Reliant Energy Wholesale Group --- reported that it has plans in the works to build a power generating facility in western Pennsylvania that will use the latest clean-coal technology on waste coal.

The new 520 MW plant is scheduled to be operational in 2004, and will replace a coal-fired 200 MW plant on the current industrial site in Indiana County, PA. The choice to go with coal rather than natural gas was made by the company for a number of reasons, including the development of circulating fluidized bed (CFB) clean-coal technology.

"The technology will allow the use of waste coal as the primary fuel source, providing an opportunity to clean up piles of waste coal, which are abundant in the area," said Curt Morgan, of the east region Reliant Energy Wholesale Group. "Any coal required to supplement the waste coal is expected to be purchased from the Pennsylvania market."

The company said that within the plant's first 15 years, more than 40 million tons of coal refuse will be removed from sites in Cambria, Indiana, and Somerset counties, with additional sites under consideration. In all, more than 100 million tons of waste coal could be removed during the life of the project.

In addition to cleaning up the landscape, the plant will remove a significant source of acid discharge from the Kiskiminetas- Conemaugh River watersheds, enhancing the efforts of environmental groups working to clean up the waterway, the company said.

Use of the CFB technology also will improve air quality, according to the company, providing yet another environmental advantage. Air emissions will decrease significantly despite the fact that the station will be approximately two and a-half times larger and, unlike the existing plant, the new station will run almost continuously.

"The Seward project is really three great stories rolled into one," said Samuel McCullough, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. He said it offers "more jobs for Pennsylvania families, a reliable supply of additional power, and a cleaner environment."

A spokeswoman for Reliant said construction will begin as soon as all state and national permits have been approved.

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