Friday, June 11, 2021

Marissa, IL: 2012 1.6 GW Prairie State Generation and Lively Grove Mine


ncsl, p19

It is one thing to close old power plants, especially ones that have been fully depreciated and have never been properly upgraded for pollution controls, but it is another to close a plant that is less than a decade old.

This is a mine-mouth power plant. That means the costs of transporting the coal is zero and the coal mining jobs are in Illinois. $1b of the $5b cost was "invested in environmental controls with the Best Available Control Technology (BACT)." [PrairieStateEnergyCampus]

In addition to the usual pollution controls such as sulfur scrubbers, this plant uses "pulverized coal technology, which grinds the coal to the consistency of talcum powder before it’s used as fuel to heat the boiler that produces steam." [PrairieStateEnergyCampus-technology]

"It is the largest coal power plant built in the U.S. since 1982 and provides more than 500 jobs." [ncsl, p3]

ncsl, p7

The plant produces 15% less CO2 than a typical U.S. coal plant and produces no CO2 transporting the coal to the plant. [ncsl, p8] Combustion residuals are sold as an alternative to Portland cement in concrete. [EnergyNews] Since producing cement produces a lot of CO2, this is another reduction of CO2 production.

ncsl, p4

ncsl, p18


This viewgraph was drawn in 2010. Since natural gas is now cheaper than coal because of fracking, the natural gas curve did not go back up. It would be interesting to see a 2020 version of these graphs and to add curves for wind turbines and solar panels.
ncsl, p14


IEEFA concludes: "Recall that the 1600-megawatt plant was developed by Peabody Energy 10 years ago next to its Lively Grove coal mine. As construction costs rose, Peabody shifted 95 percent of the ownership—and the risk— to eight municipal power agencies, which collectively issued $5 billion in bonds backed by the electric revenues of 200 municipalities in the Midwest and Virginia, many of them induced into signing 50-year contracts. Today the power generated by Prairie State is at least twice as expensive as electricity that could be purchased on the wholesale market." [gem]
The pdf I have cited had several viewgraphs showing how their cost for electricity would be below other sources of electricity. I didn't bother to copy them because I figured those viewgraphs were as wrong as their prediction for the price of natural gas. Those slides are another demonstration that just because a slide looks fancy, that does not mean the slide is true.
“The Prairie State coal plant is like a Venus flytrap,” Kibbey said. “Peabody coal and their friends who developed the plant got all these utilities to sign on with the promise of a sweet deal. By the time the utilities figured out the plant was a disaster, it was too late — they were already trapped in these onerous [50-year] contracts." [EnergyNews]
Now they are talking about adding carbon capture. [EnergyNews] But that has already been tried at least twice in Illinois under the label of FutureGen. Fortunately, both of those attempts failed early in the development cycle so that the amount of money wasted was minimized. A clean-coal plant was built in northeastern Mississippi, but it has cost the customers (rate payers) of that plant a lot of money. If Prairie State already can't generate electricity with a cost below the wholesale rate, adding the cost and  complexity of carbon capture is only going to make it less competitive.

I haven't read this article because it is too depressing, but I think it is discussing who should eat the stranded assets: Wall Street or electric rate payers. I have not been able to find out why "the power generated by Prairie State is at least twice as expensive as electricity that could be purchased on the wholesale market." [gem] Especially since they are supposed to have the advantage of zero coal transportation costs and 15% more efficient combustion efficiency. Is is because all of that innovative technology keeps breaking? At any rate, using an argument about CO2 is just a face saving way to close a plant that is loosing money.
safe_image for Why all eyes on Marissa coal plant? Its closure could leave customers billions in debt

A few hours after I wrote the above notes I read a letter to the editor in the June 11, 2021, Chicago Tribune with the title: "The tangled and uncertain future of Prairie State Energy Campus." It was by David Greising, president and CEO of the Better Government Association. The first paragraph is: "Sometimes a bad deal is just a bad deal. And it's not Springfield's job to try to make it right. In fact, it would be a mistake to even try." I sure do hope Illinois taxpayers don't join Wall Street and Prairie State customers in eating the stranded assets of this power plant and coal mine. David explains that the energy plan already has Illinois taxpayers giving $600m to Exelon to keep three nuclear plants running for five more years. Exelon sure got a good ROI for their bribery money. David lists Naperville as one of the towns that bought into Prairie State. I remember reading a while back that Naperville switched to an alternate supplier to get cheaper electricity for its residents. They were bragging about the switch back then. I'll bet they are rather quiet about that decision now.

Avon Lake, OH: 1926+1970 680 MW Avon Lake Power Plant

(3D Satellite)

safe_image for Avon Lake power plant to close, city officials say
It currently operates less than 50 days per year with 50 employees. It should close in the Fall of 2021. The good news is that it opens up some prime lakeshore property. 

The plant was built in 1926, but the 680 MW unit that is currently operating, Unit 9, was built in 1970. Unit 7 (86 MW) was built in 1949 and retired in 2016.The plant is operating with a "Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) extension granted by the Ohio EPA." The property taxes were already reduced in 2017. [gem] Given the unit numbers, several smaller units were built and replaced over the life of the plant. 

ClevelandHistorical, one of eight images
On July 31, 1926, this rotor was installed into the final turbo generator of C.E.I.'s power station in Avon Lake.
Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.

"When it opened [1926], the Avon Lake plant became the largest of its kind in the world, capable of producing a magnificent 400,000 horsepower." [ClevelandHistorical, Matt Sisson] (400k hp is 300kw. According to some photos, the old part had four smokestacks so that was built with 75mw units.)

In 1963 the bleeding edge transmission voltage was evidently 354k. [ClevelandHistorical-photo3] By 1965 the generating units were up to 250kw. [ClevelandHistorical-photo4]

Once again, a subject will be disappearing so I saved some satellite images.

It has a long, skinny coal storage pile.
3D Satellite

How much of this becomes condos vs. a public park remains to be seen. The city hopes that Federal money will help cleanup the brownland.
3D Satellite

In 1967 the red rectangle had four smokestacks. And the three smokestacks to the left of the red rectangle also existed. [ClevelandHistorical-photo7]
3D Satellite

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Pekin, IL: Chicago & Illinois Midland Depot and Freight House


This street view was specified in a Facebook comment for the C&IM brick depot.
Street View

I moved the street view to get a view of the side and noticed the caboose and cars down the road.
Street View

So I went down the road.
Street View

And I went even further because it looks like this was a freight house. The track for that siding is now isolated.
Street View

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Monessen, PA: 1898 or 1942 Cliffs/AM/Pittsburgh Steel Coke Plant

(HAERSatellite, the steel plant occupied all of the industrial land to the left)

UPSTREAM VIEW OF KOPPERS COKE PLANT IN FOREGROUND. BLAST FURNACES & OPEN HEARTH BEHIND. VIEW LOOKING WEST. - Pittsburgh Steel Company, Monessen Works, Donner Avenue, Monessen, Westmoreland County, PA Photos from Survey HAER PA-253



Significance: One of several large steel making complexes in the Monongahela River Valley in southwestern Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Steel Company's Monessen Works grew from a rod and wire mill to a fully integrated steel making facility with its own coke operations, open hearth furnaces, blast furnaces, blooming and billet mills and, most recently, continuous bloom caster. The firm has been a major manufacturer of seamless tubing. [HAER-data]
HistoricPittsburgh, cropped
[The coke plant is in the background.]
[post-gazette gives a founding date of 1889 but this page says the coke plant was built 1941-42.]
"The Pittsburgh Steel Company’s Monessen Coke Plant was built in 1941-1942 to provide aid to the United States during World War II. The plant was located on the site of the American Zinc & Tin and Carnegie Illinois Steel Corporation facilities. In order to construct the massive facility, a river wall had to be built to ensure enough ground would be available to construct the plant. The Pittsburgh Steel Company employed over 300 people to construct the wall by hand. During this period the Pittsburgh Steel Company manufactured numerous products including billets, wire, wire-fence staples, poultry-netting staples, and steel wire nails. The plant originally operated with 74 underjet ovens. In 1995 Koppers bought the site and remodeled the plant, saving it from total abandonment. In 2004 Koppers operated 57 ovens, producing approximately 360,000 tons of coke per year."

Rick Arnold posted three photos with the comment: "Coke plant in Monessen, Pennsylvania."
Adam Burke: I’ve been employed there for 15 years. The batteries are on hot idle at the moment because of the scamdemic. We’re going to be firing up in the next 2 months or so. I’ve been there through koppers,, arcelor mittal.,and now Cleveland cliffs. I’m praying I can retire from there.
Kim McGavitt: My dad worked Monessen from 1968 till the bankruptcy in 1985. He transferred to an Ohio location and back to monessen when Koppers took over. He retired in 2003.



Rich Pantaleo commented on Rick's post
Nice shots Rick! Here's the same plant back in 1965, photo from the Pittsburgh Steel Company collection, courtesy of the Greater Monessen Historical Society

Rich commented on his post
I took this in June of 2019.
This day I lifted the drone off and they immediately shut the stacks down. I was able to get a pic first. hahahah
David Wheatley: I was at exxon the day this happened. Those are actually flare stacks. A safety device to what i am told when there is to much back pressure in the coke of gas mains.
Rick Arnold: Rumor had it they thought the drone was from the EPA hahaha
Butch Fike: Rick Arnold. Unlikely. I know the EPA , Allegheny Co. & the mills themselves hired smoke watchers for these mills in the Valley. Knew a buddy that did that 30 years ago - long before drones. They know what's going on & don't need flying devices.
AC Brown: David Wheatley correct, if suction is lost the flare stacks are ignited to relieve excess pressure. Most often due to an equipment malfunction or failure.
Most likely were testing the equipment.
David Wheatley: AC Brown if my memory is correct they had a issue this day. I was at a bus stop picking up my wife and was there for like 15 mins and they was going off before and after i left. I know in my plant they test them once a week and they only do one main at a time.
AC Brown: David Wheatley could be, I worked there years ago & we were having issues with the exhauster failing due to bearing problems.
David Wheatley: AC Brown i have only seen this happen once in my 10 years in clairton. We had a total of 5 batteries flare at once. I was lidding and the oven we was about to charge the stack was right by it. I think i pooped my pants when i steamed up and then bam the stack went off. But there was a issue in the control room that night.
AC Brown: David Wheatley lol, topside would be scary if that happened. Clairton is where I'm at now.
David Wheatley: AC Brown it def was and i am in clairton as well, i was on a double when that happened.
Robert King: Is it me or is this battery very small? Our battery had 76 ovens, but looks like crap compared to this one.
Rich Wilson: First department I was assigned to when I first started with Wheeling-Pitt in the late seventies.
The only facility remaining at that plant.

post-gazette, Alexandra Wimley/Post-Gazette, first of ten photos
[This is probably the byproducts processing part of the plant.]
"The 45-acre plant in Monessen -— equipped with 56 ovens that can each hold 12.5 tons of coke — is essentially a middleman carrying out the work necessary to keep steel mills going. This plant has seen a revolving door of owners — Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, Sharon Steel, Koppers among them — as the industry has struggled. It also has been cited for environmental violations and workplace hazards that come with baking coal and removing impurities like coal tar, sulfur, liquid ammonium sulfate and oil."
AM invested $2m in upgrades in 2018. The plant employed 180 people in 2019.
[Much of the article discusses pollution and safety issues.]

AM did a $50m upgrade in 2014. [graycor]

Herald-Standard, Jun 3, 2021: coke plant to recall workers

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Newport News, VA: Newport News Shipbuilding


Early last month, USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) arrived at Newport News Shipbuilding for her Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH). Watch more below [above]!
[The foreground is the carrier's deck cluttered up with "moving day" stuff.]

The top drydock in this image is the one they used.

USS John C. Stennis came from Naval Station Norfolk so it basically just went across the James River.

Since the coal dock south of here is served by CSX/C&O, that would be the railroad that also serves this facility.

"Newport News Shipbuilding, a subsidiary of Huntington Ingalls Industries, employs roughly 26,000 workers, according to a company fact sheet. The company designs, builds and refuels nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and designs and builds nuclear-powered submarines." [apnews] The comment about submarines surprised me. I read just today that Electric Boat was the only company building our subs. And that was my understanding.

The company laid off 314 salaried employees and reduced the level of 120 managers. No one in the United Steelworkers Local 8888 was affected. [apnews]

Aerial view of HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division, taken in October 2018. Newport News is one of two U.S. shipyards capable of designing and building nuclear-powered submarines, and is the design agent and hull planning yard for the Los Angeles-class and Seawolf-class attack submarines. Photo by Ashley Cowan/HII

I wish they offered a higher resolution version of this photo because it shows two aircraft carriers being worked on.

We are teaming with Electric Boat to build the nest generation of SSBN.

Columbia Class
"Building on the success of the Virginia-class submarine program, NNS and EB will build 12 Columbia-class submarines between 2021 and 2039 with EB as the prime contractor. NNS will participate in the design and will manufacture major Columbia-class assemblies and modules, including the bow, stern, auxiliary machinery room, superstructure and weapons modules."

Virginia-class submarine USS John Warner (SSN 785) on sea trials.

Ford Class Aircraft Carriers

John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) is the second Ford class carrier

And the Enterprise (CFN 80) will the the third.

John C. Stennis is CVN 74.
Slide 5 via May 2021 Slide Show via Photos

It is a snug fit, and some of the cranes are not very useful because they can't get past the overhang. This is probably one of the reasons they have the big gantry crane.
Slide 17

And this is why the notch was added at the end of this drydock.
Slide 33

Monday, June 7, 2021

Erie, PA: 1833-2019 Erie Coke Corporation

(3D Satellite)

One of nine photos posted by Bubba Dubs
[The gasometer is a reminder that gas was an important byproduct of manufacturing coke.]
Hallie Strohmeyer: These sting a little, not gonna lie. I've been watching the progress from the ground, but seeing it all at once from overhead is an entirely different feeling. 😕 Thanks for sharing, Bubba Dubs!
As far as her history, there were some white hats who managed to capture a lot of photos in our last few months. My husband and I are in possession of probably 1200+ between the two of us. I have to agree that these old coke plants have to go once they're closed, as much as I hate to see them demolished. There's just too much risk to the environment and the cost to keep them from crumbling as they decay would be astronomical. Better to remember them as they were through photos and allow the land to be cleaned up, heal, and be reused for something else or be reclaimed by the ecosystem.

After years of fighting legal issues concerning air quality violations, it was not the state agency that bought the plant operations to a halt. It was Erie "cutting off Erie Coke's ability to discharge its wastewater through the city of Erie sewer system." The company could not afford the cost of trucking away their wastewater. 100 jobs were lost. [GoErie]

A 3D Satellite image caught it before the piles were removed and the demolition started.
3D Satellite


They were pre-treating the water before they dumped it into the sewers.